A viral Internet rumor suggests that first lady Michelle Obama may have been angry with President Obama over a conversation he had with Denmark’s prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
The rumor arose over photos of the Obamas that were taken at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg on Tuesday. At one point during the event, President Obama shared a laugh with Thorning-Schmidt, who happened to be sitting directly next to him. However, Michelle Obama was not amused -- she appeared to send a sharp look in her husband’s direction as he patted Thorning-Schmidt on the shoulder.
A second photo, apparently taken after the initial exchange between the president and Thorning-Schmidt, revealed that he and the first lady had switched seats. Michelle Obama sat between her husband and the Danish prime minister, and she appeared to slightly turn her back to the dignitary.
The photos drew an immediate response on social media, as users suggested that Michelle Obama had forced the president to switch seats for flirting with Thorning-Schmidt. The images already have their own Reddit thread, and are a hot topic on Twitter.
“Michelle Obama vs. Prime Minister of Denmark at Mandela’s ceremony,” one Twitter user said. “Those pictures of Michelle Obama making the hubby swap seats are too much,” another person wrote. Additional Twitter reactions to the “seat-change” can be viewed here.
The apparent seat change wasn’t the only source of controversy spawned by President Obama’s interactions with Thorning-Schmidt. The president drew criticism on Tuesday after he was spotted posing for a “selfie” with the Danish leader and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Critics accused Obama of taking a “funeral selfie,” and claimed that the president’s action was inappropriate given the solemn nature of Mandela’s memorial service. It’s worth noting that Michelle Obama sat by with a serious look on her face while her husband and his political colleagues hammed it up for the camera. It's unclear if the selfie was taken before or after the Obamas switched seats.
This isn’t the first time that the Obamas have been scrutinized over apparent marital discord. In 2012, author Edward Klein claimed that the first lady considered a divorce from President Obama in 2000. His allegations have not been substantiated.