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When Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt took a “selfie” on her smartphone on Dec. 14 — like millions of people do every day — she doubtless had little idea of the commotion that would ensue. In the photograph, taken at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, the most admired political leader of his generation, Thorning-Schmidt was flanked by a smiling Barack Obama on one side and David Cameron squeezing in on the other. And all three looked as if they were ready to Snapchat their larking pose to all their school friends.

But if the trio thought it was a moment of fun in a lengthy ceremony, the deed was greeted with a lack of amusement — not least by Michelle Obama, whose frosty glare suggested the leader of the free world would be residing in Chateau Bow Wow that evening. Elsewhere, commentators were quick to identify the incident as a sign of falling standards, declining morals and the imminent collapse of Western civilization.

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