CPH Post


PM’s 'selfie' with Obama and Cameron goes viral

Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt posed for a photo with the US and British leaders at Nelson Mandela's memorial service that some called "inappropriate"

Six British dailies ran with the now infamous 'selfie' on their covers this morning

December 11, 2013

by Peter Stanners

PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt has been accused of lacking sensitivity after she was caught snapping a 'selfie' with  British PM David Cameron and US president Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service yesterday.

The three leaders were among dozens who joined tens of thousands of South Africans in Johannesburg to celebrate the life of their former leader who helped transition the country away from the apartheid regime.

It is unclear how Thorning-Schmidt managed to nab a seat beside the leader of the free world, but press photos clearly show the two enjoying a laugh while Obama’s wife Michelle looked on unimpressed.


Photo: Scanpix

A later photograph showed that an apparently disgruntled Michelle had swapped places with Obama later in the service leading Twitter users to speculate that she had had enough of her husband’s antics with the Danish PM.

British PM Cameron may have felt left out, however, and joined in the fun, posing beside the two as they together took a self-portrait on Thorning-Schmidt’s phone.

The series of images were published by newspapers around the world with the now infamous 'selfie' graced the covers of at least six daily newspapers in the UK alone.

The Daily Mail – the UK’s most circulated tabloid – ran the headline, “Dave, a flirty Dane and a ‘selfie’ that left Mrs Obama VERY unamused”.


“While some reflected on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela, some world leaders saw it as the perfect opportunity to grab a quick 'selfie' with their peers - prompting a backlash from web users accusing them of undermining the seriousness of the event,” the tabloid wrote.

Metro ran with: 'You’re going to get Helle from Michelle' while Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun went straight for the jugular with 'No Selfie Respect'.

The Copenhagen Post readers also found the incident to lack sensitivity

“Where is the ethic and decency?” Nicole BN wrote on The Copenhagen Post’s Facebook page. “It's not an appropriate time and place to take selfies [..] these three are like kids.”

Humour not disrespectful
But others argued that Mandela would have approved.

“Sometimes good humour is exactly what is needed,” David Somerlinck wrote. “Were they showing disrespect to the man and his family? Personally, I don't think so.”

While Thorning-Schmidt was living large with Cameron and Obama, her government was in disarray after her justice minister Morten Bødskov (S) was forced to resign after he admitted to lying to parliament.

One image may have captured the moment Thorning-Schmidt learned of the problems at home as she is seen looking intently into her phone while Michelle Obama gives her the cold shoulder.


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