UK's Cameron Defends 'Selfie' at Mandela Service

Image: UK's Cameron Defends 'Selfie' at Mandela Service

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 05:17 PM

By Cathy Burke

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British Prime Minister David Cameron, chided by a member of Parliament for getting in on a "selfie" with President Barack Obama and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during Nelson Mandela's memorial service, reportedly defended his behavior by saying he was just being "polite."

Cameron leaned into the picture with Obama and Thorning-Schmidt – the daughter-in-law of ex-Labor Party leader Lord Kinnock – as the trio huddled together and smiled for a cellphone shot in South Africa on Tuesday.

The group shot triggered outrage among some conservatives in the United States, while the New York Post ran a front-page headline, "Flirting with Dane-ger," along with a picture of Obama laughing with Thorning-Schmidt as first lady Michelle Obama looks on glumly.

In London's House of Commons, Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood asked Cameron: "Has the prime minister had the opportunity to discuss international mobile phone usage with any other European heads of government over the last day or so?" the British newspaper Telegraph reported.

Cameron replied he was being nice.

"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 earlier whether Cameron felt his actions were inappropriate, the prime minister’s official spokesman noted the event "was very much a celebration of Nelson Mandela and his life and his achievements," the Telegraph reported.

"I am sure many of us were watching the pictures from it, and I think it did come across, and rightly so, as a marking and a celebration of Mr. Mandela's life," the spokesman said.

"You had plenty of words from the prime minister and leaders from around the world that attest to that."

The photographer who took the picture of the three leaders' "selfie," Roberto Schmidt of the AFP news agency, has said he felt the officials were "simply acting like human beings," and took the shot "without thinking about what impact they might have."

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