She apparently wrote about her recent ex, One Direction hunk Harry Styles. Many speculate the performance was her way of flipping off Styles, with whom 23-year-old songstress recently split.

Styles, however, was unperturbed. When asked about her performance by the Daily Mail, he said: “I thought her performance was really good, she looked great.”

The couple’s rift dominated much of the ceremony (organisers made sure to seat them on opposite sides of London’s O2 Arena). In some ways, Styles came out the winner, as One Direction (who performed a new single, One Way Or Another, on a giant pinball machine) took the global success award, recognising their international sales.

Swift, meanwhile, missed out on the best international female prize to Lana Del Rey, who thanked her record label for its help in “turning my life into art”.

Chart-topping star Emeli Sande was the queen of the Brit Awards after collecting two of the biggest prizes as she declared: “This is a dream.”

The 25-year-old singer was named best British female and carried off the key prize of the night when her debut release, Our Version Of Events, was named best album.

The ceremony at London’s O2 Arena on Wednesday also saw another double winner with singer-songwriter Ben Howard named best British male and best breakthrough artist.

A stunned Howard, also 25, said: “This is bizarre, isn’t it? I didn’t really expect it. I’m quite stoked to even come to the awards, so to come away with two of these is amazing.”

Australia’s Gotye lost to Frank Ocean for the best international male award,

World-conquering Adele added to her tally of Brits with the best single prize for her James Bond theme, Skyfall.

And she joked about being allowed to finish her speech after being cut off when show bosses ran out of time last year and host James Corden interrupted her.

In a video acceptance from Los Angeles, where she is rehearsing for this weekend’s Oscars ceremony, she said: “I won’t keep you too long because I don’t want to interrupt the best album speech at the end of the night.”

But the night belonged to Sande – who called herself “a very unlikely pop star” – with her double triumph. Just last year she had picked up the Critics’ Choice prize as one of the year’s top hopefuls.

Sande’s performance at the London 2012 opening ceremony

Since then she has had the biggest-selling album of the year, got married and appeared at both the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympics.

Collecting her best album award – beating Plan B, Mumford & Sons, Paloma Faith and Alt-J – she said: “Wow, I think I’m a very unlikely pop star. You know this is an album I wrote because I didn’t have the confidence to say these things in person.

“For me, so many people have connected with this album and found strength with these words, it makes me feel incredible and it doesn’t make me feel as lonely.

“So thank you everybody who bought this record. You make me feel as though I’m part of something much bigger. This is a dream really.”

Mumford & Sons picked up the award for best British group, two years after missing out on the prize when they were previously shortlisted.

“Thanks very much indeed,” frontman Marcus Mumford said. “We weren’t expecting that. We were in a group with Muse and One Direction, so it’s a surprise.”

During the show Corden teased One Direction’s Harry Styles, noted for his relationships with older women, by joking that Sharon Osbourne and Annie Lennox were in the building.

Coldplay were declared best live act, beating the likes of Muse, Mumford & Sons and the Rolling Stones. Black Keys took the international group prize.

Brits 2013 winners

Critics’ Choice – Tom Odell

British Producer – Paul Epworth

Presented on the night:

British Female Solo Artist – Emeli Sandé

British Group – Mumford & Sons

British Breakthrough Act – Ben Howard

British Male Solo Artist – Ben Howard

International Female Solo Artist – Lana Del Rey

British Live Act – Coldplay

British Single – Adele ‘Skyfall’

International Group – The Black Keys

International Male Solo Artist – Frank Ocean

Special Recognition Award – War Child

MasterCard British Album Of The Year – Emeli Sandé ‘Our Version Of Events’

BRITs Global Success Award – One Direction