Melania Trump reappears after weeks of speculation about her absence

After nearly a month out of the public eye, the first lady attended an event to honour Gold Star families

Melania Trump has made her first public appearance in almost a month, at a White House event to honour Gold Star families. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Melania Trump has made her first public appearance in almost a month, at a White House event to honour Gold Star families. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

 

Melania Trump has made her first public appearance in almost a month, at a White House event to honour Gold Star families. The first lady’s attendance at the reception on Monday evening ends weeks of fervent speculation as to her whereabouts. Internet conspiracy theories about “missing Melania” weren’t helped by reports over the weekend that the first lady will not be attending the upcoming G7 summit or the June 12th summit in Singapore with her husband.

While Monday’s event was closed to press, a blurry video which appears to show Melania Trump, but has not been verified, was posted on social media by Jena Greene, a reporter at the Daily Caller. Greene’s father was killed in action in Iraq in 2004, which means she is from a Gold Star family and would have been invited to the reception.

CNN has also reported that the first lady was in the room. According to CNN, Trump made a joke about Melania’s prolonged absence, saying that the media were speculating the first lady had left him. He then pointed out that his wife was, in fact, sitting in the front row. While playful, the joke was perhaps not entirely befitting an event where families were mourning their loved ones.

Following the event, the first lady tweeted: “Tonight @POTUS & I were honored to pay tribute to our fallen heroes. Thank you to the Gold Star families that joined us in celebration & remembrance.”

The last time Melania Trump participated in an official event was on May 10th, when the first couple greeted three former US prisoners who had been released from captivity in North Korea. Four days later, the first lady was admitted to hospital to treat a benign kidney condition. She was released from the hospital with no complications on May 19th.

“Great to have our incredible First Lady back home in the White House. Melanie is feeling and doing really well,” Trump tweeted in observance of the event. After realizing he’d spelled his wife’s name wrong Trump quickly deleted the tweet and posted a new one with the correct spelling.

While the simplest reason for Melania’s prolonged absence from the spotlight is her recent operation, the internet has been ablaze with more outlandish rationales. These range from theories that the first lady had plastic surgery to speculation that she has had enough of political life and fled her marriage. Some people have even been posting humorous flyers in New York seeking information on the “missing” first lady.

Melania Trump’s absence from the public eye has been particularly perplexing to some considering that she announced her “Be Best” anti-bulling initiative on May 7th. As television personality Billy Eichner tweeted: “How can you Be Best if you Be Missing”?

On May 30th, Melania Trump tweeted, in response to theories about her absence.

This did little to quell the conspiracy theories; indeed it only fueled the idea that the first lady had died or disappeared and someone else was writing her tweets for her.

As Monday’s event has made clear, however, rumours of the first lady’s death have been greatly exaggerated. – Guardian