David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial

However, his comment may do little to offset the outrage sparked by the whimsical mobile photo

David Cameron has attempted to explain why he decided to lean in for a ‘selfie’ with Barack Obama and the Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesberg yesterday.

Speaking to MPs today, he said: “When a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say yes.”

Thorning-Schmidt, the Social Democrat leader in Denmark, is married to former Labour leader Neil Kinnock’s son, Stephen Kinnock.

However, his comment may do little to offset the outrage sparked by the whimsical mobile photo, which many deemed ‘inappropriate’ given the nature of the occasion.

“What selfish morons take a 'selfie' at a memorial service? Oh yeah that's right, Barack Obama and David Cameron,” one Twitter user wrote.

“You have precisely zero class or decorum,” another message, directed at David Cameron, read.

And they weren’t the only ones who were less than impressed. Michelle Obama was captured looking stony-faced as her husband snapped away with the two leaders in the stands.

Mandela's Memorial: The Ultimate Who's Who

Earlier on, the President called the former South African leader a “giant of history” in a moving tribute, which was strangely delivered to a sparsely populated stadium that was only a third full.

The crowd – a mix of thousands of singing supporters and 90 world dignitaries  – emitted a roar as Obama took his seat, in marked contrast to the boos that greeted scandal-plagued South African President Jacob Zuma.

In his speech, Obama compared Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Abraham Lincoln, declaring that the legacy of the leader who defeated apartheid must not be wasted.

He chided leaders who were quick to claim solidarity with Mandela's struggle with oppression and injustice, but did not allow freedom in their own countries.

“There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” he said.

“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” he said.

As well as Castro, Obama also shook hands with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who has been stridently critical of National Security Agency spying.

Video: Obama selfie at Mandela memorial  

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London