This has to be the most prominent few days in the international spotlight Helle Thorning-Schmidt has ever experienced.
Although sadly, for the wrong reasons.
The Danish prime minister came under fire for taking an “inappropriate” selfie opportunity with US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron midway through Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesberg, which went viral, sparking outrage.
Cameron later explained why he chose to lean in for a snap with the pair, telling his MPs: “When a member of the Kinnock family asked me for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say yes.”
This, we learned, was in reference to the fact that Thorning-Schmidt is married to Stephen Kinnock – the son of former Labour party leader Lord Neil Kinnock. The couple, who have two daughters together, met while she was studying at the European College in Bruges. So that’s one factoid of information uncovered. But what else do we know about the glamorous Scandinavian politician?
She’s A Young Success Story
After completing a degree in political science from the University of Copenhagen, she joined the Social Democrat party at the tender age of 26. Her job before that? A consultant role for the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (casual). She served in the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004, before she was appointed to the position of leader of the Social Democratic Party. The party won the election in 2011, making her the first female prime minister the country had ever seen. Now 46, she leads a coalition of the Social Democrats, (her own party) the Socialist People’s Party and the Danish Social Liberal Party.
Obama And Her Are Old Pals
Don’t think for a second she was over-excited to meet the President of the USA, hence the ‘selfie’ moment thsat ensued. Helle and Barack have met numerous times, including at the White House, where she was invited to visit in 2012. Even more recently, they rendezvoused during Obama’s visit to Stockholm in September.
She’s Got A (Sort Of) Hilarious Fashion-Based Nickname
We say ‘sort of’ because, genuinely, we’re not sure we get it. They’ve clearly just put the title of an Italian fashion house in front of her own name. But the PM is apparently nicknamed “Gucci Helle” by her colleagues for her obsession with designer clobber and style.
She Hasn’t Always Had A Clean Political Slate
Aside from being criticised for her superbly glamorous appearance (We can't all look like “s**t”, she once said at a party meeting), Helle and her husband Stephen came under fire when they were investigated over allegations of tax avoidance in 2010. Particularly awkward, as her campaign platform centred around tax rises and increased public spending. However, the pair were later cleared of all wrongdoings.