Obama and Cameron cosy up for ‘inappropriate’ selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

The leaders spark outrage for taking the photo opportunity at the event

It was all going so well after that historic handshake with Fidel Castro.

But President Obama managed to put himself back in the firing line after posing for a rather inappropriate selfie with Prime Minister David Cameron and the Danish leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt at a memorial  held for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg earlier today.

Mandela's Memorial: The Ultimate Who's Who A-Z

Michelle Obama was captured on camera looking  unamused by her husband’s playful pursuits as he snapped away on his mobile phone during the sombre service.

And she wasn’t the only person who was less than impressed. The photograph quickly went viral on the internet, sparking widespread outrage on social media.

“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.

Earlier on, the President labelled 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: Pundits on Obama-Castro handshake