Obama’s Selfie ‘Bit of Fun,’ Photo-Partner PM Says

Photograph by Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty images

This combo of pictures shows U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and British Prime Minister David Cameron, left, posing for a selfie photo with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt, center, during the memorial service of South African former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on Dec. 10, 2013.

That selfie seen ’round the world this week was simply a “bit of fun.”

So says Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who cheerfully mugged for a smartphone with a grinning President Barack Obama and smiling British Prime Minister David Cameron in the VIP rows at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

“There were lots of pictures taken that day, and I just thought it was a bit of fun,” the Danish leader told the Danish daily Berlingske. “Maybe it also shows that when we meet heads of state and government, we too are just people who have fun.”

“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,” she noted of a service where the Vuvuela was echoing throughut the stadium. “There was dancing on the stands… And then we took a really fun selfie.”

Cameron also faced some questions back home, following the selfie tweeted from the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. (The Danish prime minister is the daughter in law of former Labor Leader Lord Kinnock.)

“In my defense I would say that Nelson Mandela played an extraordinary role in his life and in his death in bringing people together,” he said. “So of course when a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say yes.”

Asked about the apparent unhappiness of First Lady Michelle Obama in that selfie taken in the stands, the Agence France Presse photographer who caught it said in an AFP  blog:“Photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.”

The White House hasn’t had much to say about the selfie. Jay Carney, the chief spokesman, was asked on the way home from Johannesburg whose phone the picture was taken on. “I don’t know the answer to that question,” he replied.

 

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