The Famous Selfie of Barak Obama , David Cameron and Helle Thorning- Schmidt

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Dansk: Regeringen Helle Thorning-Schmidts tilt...

Dansk: Regeringen Helle Thorning-Schmidts tiltrædelse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (Photo credit: Festival Karsh Ottawa)

Nelson Mandela silhouette

Nelson Mandela silhouette (Photo credit: HelenSTB)

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Danish politi...

English: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Danish politician from Socialdemokratiet Dansk: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, dansk politiker og leder af Socialdemokratiet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Ministe...

English: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmak Español: Helle Thorning-Schmidt, primera ministra de Dinamarca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michelle Obama was not unhappy during Nelson Mandela ‘selfie’, photographer insists

AFP photographer who took picture of Barack Obama, David Cameron and Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt, insists Michelle Obama had been smiling only moments before

'Selfie' diplomacy: Michelle Obama looks unamused by Barack's joking with Danish prime minister

Michelle Obama looks away as (L-R) British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and US President Barack Obama take a selfie Photo: ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP

By Natasha Clark

1:10PM GMT 11 Dec 2013

Michelle Obama’s stern expression during a picture of David Cameron, Barack Obama and Denmark’s Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Nelson Mandela’s memorial was captured “by chance” and she had been laughing only seconds before, according to the photographer.

The photograph of the Danish prime minister’s “selfie” with President Obama and Mr Cameron featured on front pages around the world. While the trio looked delighted to be at the memorial in Soweto, the US first lady looked distinctly unimpressed in the background.

However, it was a misleading image capturing a natural and relaxed atmosphere, according to Roberto Schmidt, the AFP photographer responsible for the snap.

“Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president,” he wrote in a blog for AFP. “I captured the scene reflexively. All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid.

(ALEXANDER JOE/AFP)

“The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.

“I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But 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.”

Around two hours into the four-hour long ceremony to remember the former South African leader, the president and two prime ministers posed for a picture on Mrs Thorning Schmidt’s mobile phone, prompting criticisms that it was unprofessional at such an event.

Some took to Twitter to voice their concerns over the behaviour. James Armitage wrote “What morons take a ‘selfie’ at a memorial service? Oh yeah that’s right, Barack Obama and David Cameron.”

Sarah McDermott accused David Cameron of having “zero class or decorum.”

Later photos show Mr Obama swapping seats with his wife Michelle, fuelling claims that she was annoyed with his behaviour.

The picture was taken after President Obama paid an emotional tribute to Nelson Mandela, describing him as a ‘giant’ of history and encouraging world leaders to follow his example.

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