David Cameron has issued a personal plea to his Danish counterpart Helle Thorning-Schmidt not to delete last week’s controversial Nelson Mandela memorial service selfie.
The Prime Minister has laughed off criticism surrounding the light-hearted moment following US President Barack Obama’s eulogy, despite some critics saying it was in poor taste.
Ms Thorning-Schmidt downplayed the selfie as “a bit of fun”, and said she would not be releasing the image because it “was not very good”.
Yet upon hearing that she was ready to delete the photograph, Mr Cameron has intervened, saying that it should instead be sold to raise money for charity.
According to reports in the Sunday Times, the two world leaders discussed what to do with the image last week. A source told the newspaper: “Helle wanted to delete it but Cameron urged her not to.
“He pointed out that it could raise a lot of money.”
The Danish Prime Minister is married to the son of former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, a fact which Mr Cameron referenced at Prime Minister’s Questions.
He joked to the Commons: “Nelson Mandela played an extraordinary role in bringing people together, so when a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph I thought it was only polite to say yes.”
Speaking to the Danish daily Berlingske, Ms Thorning-Schmidt said that the picture showed that “when we meet heads of state and government, we too are just people who have fun”.
“There was a sadness,” she said. “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. There was dancing on the stands. … And then we took a really fun selfie.”
Roberto Schmidt, the AFP photographer who captured the moment, defended the leaders, saying: “The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not.”
Downing Street has declined to comment on whether or not the conversation between Mr Cameron and Ms Thorning-Schmidt took place.
But asked whether there would be a market for the image if the Danish Prime Minister did choose to auction it off, i-images photographer Andrew Parsons told the Sunday Times: “We’ve all seen the picture from the front, it would be great to see how it looked from the other side of the camera.”