AMERICA’S First Lady has gone from living in a tower block in Communist Yugoslavia to being one of the world’s most recognisable women.
But just who is Melania Trump and how did she meet her billionaire husband and US President Donald? Here’s the lowdown.
Rex Features First Lady of the United States Melania Trump
Who is Melania Trump and what nationality is she?
Donald Trump’s third wife, born Melania Knauss, is the only First Lady to be born in a communist country.
She was born on April 26, 1970 and raised in a tower block in communist Yugoslavia (now Slovenia), making her only the second First Lady to have been born outside the United States after Louisa Adams, the English wife of President John Quincy, who left office in 1829.
She began modelling aged just five years old after posing for a Slovenian fashion photographer Stane Jerko.
She was later signed to a modelling agency in Milan, Italy, when she was 18 years old.
As a teen she went on to study architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana and later started travelling to Milan, where she signed on to an agency.
While in Italy, Melania — who changed her surname from Knavs to the more Germanic-sounding Knauss — was set on the path to meet her billionaire husband.
Reuters Melania was a successful model before she met Trump in 1998
She moved to New York in 1996 on a work visa and has since appeared on the covers of New York Magazine, Vogue in Italy, Harper’s Bazaar in Bulgaria and GQ in the UK.
In 1995, she appeared in a lesbian-style shoot with fellow model Emma Erikson in which the pair posed naked alongside each other.
Three years later she started dating Donald Trump in 1998, before marrying him in 2005 and gave birth to their son, Barron, the following year.
Her husband described her as an “incredible” mother to their son Barron who she is lived with in New York until he finished the school year – the pair then joined Trump in Washington in June 2017.
She refers to him as “Little Donald” because of his love of wearing a suit and tie.
Despite being viewed as a trophy wife, insiders say she is key part of Team Trump and arguably the most powerful woman on Earth.
The 48-year-old speaks five languages, including: Slovenian, English, French, German and Serbian.
And at 5ft 11ins she is one of the tallest First Ladies in history.
After critics slammed her speech at the Republican National Convention when she appeared to copy Michella Obama word for word, Melania now claims she will tackle cyber-bullying.
Reuters The pair have one child together, 10-year-old Barron Trump
When did Melania marry Donald Trump?
Her best friend at the time, Edit Molnar, said Melania met the 52-year-old Mr Trump at a party at the Kit Kat Club during New York Fashion Week in 1998.
According to Molnar, the model was initially “turned off” by the billionaire.
“Melania said ‘He’s here with a woman. I am absolutely not giving him my number.’ She wouldn’t even consider it,” she told the New York Times.
Instead, Donald gave her all of his numbers — business and home — and she called him when she returned from a modelling trip.
She started dating notorious ladies man Trump following the collapse of his second marriage to Marla Maples.
They married in 2005 at a star-studded bash, which included Bill and Hillary Clinton, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
GQ magazine reports that Melania’s Dior wedding dress cost $100,000 and took 550 hours to make.
Her 12-carat diamond wedding ring cost a whopping £1.5 million.
Getty Images Donald Trump kisses his wife as he wins the presidency
How is she getting on as First Lady?
Along with her son, Barron Trump, Melania has received intense flack from left-wing celebrities who do not agree with Donald Trump‘s firebrand manner and hard-line policies.
In particular, Trump’s detractors have laid into her for being absent during public appearances.
Critics have also been keen to seize on her body language which they hope suggests Melania has fallen out her spouse.
But defiantly addressing supporters at the President’s Florida rally, Melania said: “I will always stay true to myself and be truthful to you no matter what the opposition is saying about me.
“It is my honour and great pleasure to stand here before you as the First Lady of the United States.
“The America that we envisioned is one that works for all Americans and where all Americans can work and succeed.
“A nation committed to a greater civility and unity between people from all sides of the political divide.”
When she appeared alongside her husband at the G20 summit in Germany, she was unable to leave the building due to chaotic protests.
In June 2018, her decision to wear a Zara coat featuring the words “I really don’t care do u?” on a visit to a migrant child detention centre in Texas provoked outrage.
The PR disaster came just days after the US President made a U-turn on a policy to separate migrant children from their families at the US-Mexico border – one which had caused widespread outrage.
Mr and Mrs Trump arrived in the UK on July 12 for a four-day visit to the country.
Following the First Family’s arrival, a world exclusive interview in The Sun saw Mr Trump criticise Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.
Reuters Melania, Donald and Barron Trump pictured as they all moved in to the White House
What is Melania Trump’s net worth?
According to NetWorth.com, the 47-year-old is worth an estimated £7.8million.
In the early days of her romance with Donald, as her fame and modelling career soared, Melania brushed off suggestions she was a gold digger.
“The press could be sometimes very mean,” she told the Times. “But I think you can’t be with the person if it’s not love, if they don’t satisfy you.”
Since marrying her billionaire husband, Melania has launched her own jewellery and watch line which she reportedly designs herself.
Photos of the Trump Tower penthouse suite she shared with Donald and Barron give her 900,000 Twitter followers a glimpse into their opulent Manhattan lifestyle.
The Louis XIV-style apartment is adorned with 24-carat gold and marble. There are crystal chandeliers and murals painted on the ceilings.
Reuters Trump married Melania at a star-studded bash in 2005
Does Melania agree with her husband’s politics?
Despite being an immigrant herself, Melania has been supportive of her husband’s tough stance on migrants.
After the Republican Presidential candidate referred to some Mexicans immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists”, the mother-of-one hit back at critics pointing out that Trump was talking about “illegal immigrants”.
The model said she never broke the law while living here on a visa, telling MSNBC: “I follow the law. I never thought to stay here without papers.”
In 2011, when Trump was pushing for President Obama to release his birth certificate, Melania — who became an American citizen in 2006 — backed up her husband in an interview with Joy Behar.
“In one way, it would be very easy if President Obama just show it,” she said.
“It’s not only Donald who wants to see it; it’s American people who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him.”
Getty Images – Getty Melania wearing a coat which has the slogan ‘I really don’t care, do u?’ as she flew to meet migrant children who had been separated from their parents.
On June 21, 2018, Melania wore a jacket that read “I really don’t care, do u?” as she boarded a flight to a facility housing migrant children separated from their parents.
The green, hooded military jacket had the words written graffiti-style on the back.
When asked what message the first lady’s jacket intends to send, spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.
“After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. ”
Grisham underscored that message in a tweet with the hashtags #SheCares and #ItsJustAJacket.
Melania changed into a pale yellow jacket before the plane landed in McAllen, Texas, for a visit to the Upbring New Hope Children’s Centre, which houses 55 migrant children.
When did Melania Trump undergo kidney surgery?
On May 14, 2018 the White House released statement advising that the First Lady had undergone surgery to treat a benign kidney condition.
An embolization procedure was carried out at Walter Reed Hospital Military Medical Center and was a success.
The statement read; “This morning, First Lady Melania Trump underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition.
“The procedure was successful and there were no complications.
“Mrs Trump is at Walter Reed Hospital Military Medical Center and will likely remain there for the duration of the week.