See the famous selfie in the video above.
It’s been called 'The World’s most famous selfie' and has never been publicly shown before. The Danish tabloid magazine BT is now, as the first media ever, showing what the selfie, taken by former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, looked like.
Now Helle Thorning-Schmidt is opening up about what a terrible day it actually was for her that day. Just ten minutes after she had taken the selfie, she was called up by her close ally and party fellow, the former Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov.
»It was a very special and crazy day in South Africa. Just after the selfie was taken, Morten called me up and I had to get up and walk out, so I could talk to him. Pernille Skipper from ‘The Red–Green Alliance’ had said that they would withdraw the support for him. I was sad. Really, really sad that he had to leave. So I stood there, blinking my eyes and just trying to understand what had happened. Meanwhile, there where so many other things going on around me. And that selfie, which I did not know at the time, would become such a huge thing. I was texting with Morten, while people from all over the world came and talked to me,« says Thorning.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt took the selfie with the former American President Barack Obama and the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron December 10th in 2013, when she was participating in a memorial service for the South African liberator and later President Nelson Mandela, who had died a few days earlier. And even though there have been countless of encouragements to publish the selfie, she has declined on every opportunity. ‘We look so goofy’ was the explanation. Until now.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt has chosen to publish the selfie in her new book 'What doesn’t kill you', which will be released on October 12th.
She had earlier explained how it was a coincident that she got to sit next to Obama at the memorial service that took place at a stadium with 95,000 participants.
She went to the event with His Royal Highness Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. They were running late and got separated. At the stadium an area was reserved for state and government leaders, and Thorning sat on the last vacant chair next to two chairs which were reserved. They turned out to be reserved for Michelle and Barack Obama who shortly thereafter took their seats.
»I was sitting in the same corner as Michelle and Barack Obama so there were a lot of people coming over all the time. They were the center of attention. Everyone wanted to take pictures with the two. And photos were taken constantly,« says Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
At one point David Cameron also came over to them, and then Thorning herself wanted to take a selfie. Her daughters had just taught her how to take a selfie during a visit to Wales, and therefor she had a spontaneous desire to try it. Both Cameron and Obama participated in the idea, and a photographer from the AFP news agency was lucky enough to seize the moment. Thorning did not know so.
»On my way from the stadium I got a phone call from Villy who told me he was planning to withdraw himself from the post as Minister of Foreign Affairs and quit politics all together due to his health. It was not until I landed in Frankfurt that I noticed that the selfie-story had become so huge.« Helle Thorning-Schmidt says.
One of the reasons the selfie story became so huge was that people perceived it as inappropriate. Another reason was that several people interpreted Michelle Obama's expression in the picture as if she disapproved of their behavior. Both reasons are clearly rejected by Thorning, who describes the mood at the stadium as festive.
The American newspaper Washington Post rated the selfie the sixth best political image in 2013. At the same time it has been reprinted in several coffeetable books and at art exhibitions. Among others the Saatchi Gallery in London had a success with the exhibition 'From Selfie to Self-Expression' in the summer of 2017.