British, Danish PMs laugh off 'selfie' at Mandela memorial

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Danish counterpart on Wednesday laughed off criticism that they had acted inappropriately by posing for a mobile phone "selfie" with US President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

A photograph of Cameron and Obama leaning in and smiling broadly for a smartphone snap taken Tuesday by Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has caused a storm on social media.

Asked about the picture during his weekly question and answer session in the House of Commons, Cameron quipped that "you should always remember that the television cameras are always on".

The Conservative leader also joked that he was building political bridges, a reference to Thorning-Schmidt's marriage to the son of Neil Kinnock, the former leader of the Tories' arch-rivals Labour.

Thorning-Schmidt told Danish daily Berlingske the "selfie" showed they were "just people".

"It wasn't inappropriate. There were lots of pictures taken that day, and I just thought it was a bit fun.

"Maybe it also shows that when we meet heads of state and government, we too are just people who have fun," she added.

"There was a sadness, but it was basically a festive event that also celebrated a man who has lived for 95 years and achieved so much in his life," Thorning-Schmidt said.

"There was dancing on the stands... And then we took a really fun selfie."

In a tongue-in-cheek question, British lawmaker Martin Horwood noted EU efforts to abolish expensive mobile phone roaming charges.

"Has the prime minister had the opportunity to discuss international mobile phone usage with any European heads of government in the last day or so?" he asked.

To laughs in the chamber, Cameron replied: "You could say in a roundabout way, and, er, perhaps in my defence, you should always remember that the television cameras are always on.

"But in my defence I'd say that Nelson Mandela played an extraordinary role in his life and in his death in bringing people together.

"And so of course when a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph I thought it was only polite to say yes."

Share your thoughts

Discussion 1 : 12/12/2013 at 09:21 AM
The danish PM need those pictures as memorables as she will be history in the next election.
Discussion 2 : 12/12/2013 at 08:46 AM
It's normal to take photo, these leaders are also human with feeling, they have the right to take picture with smile, we don't expect them to take picture in tears, people where not only mourning the death, but also celebrating Mandela death. nothing wrong with world learders gather together taking photos.. the same Mandela is the man who always used to bring world leaders together.
Discussion 3 : 12/12/2013 at 08:34 AM
The world’s most powerful man (who happens to be black) sharing space and having a bit of a laugh with other freely elected national leaders (who happen to be white)? Mandela would be appalled by such a disgraceful and inappropriate situation — NOT!

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