Where is Melania Trump?

First Lady’s 24-day disappearance draws comment

Melania's time in the White House has not been easy, with repeated allegations of sexual impropriety against her husband. The latest concerned an alleged affair between the president and porn star Stormy Daniels just months after Melania gave birth to the

Even before her husband’s election in November 2016, Melania Trump has never been the kind of political spouse to seek the public spotlight.

The 48-year-old has made a name for herself as “one of the most independent first ladies in recent history,” says CNN, often “separating herself from her husband's travel plans, outings, rallies and, on more than one occasion, motorcades”.

However, her recent absence has been astonishing even by her own low-profile standards.

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Melania has not been seen in public for more than three weeks - highly unusual for a modern first lady, whose role typically comes with a busy schedule of personal appearances at charitable, social and diplomatic functions.

Her last public appearance was on 10 May, when she joined her husband to greet three American hostages released from captivity in North Korea.

Aside from five days in hospital for surgery to treat a “benign kidney condition”, little is known about her whereabouts since then.

For comparison, Hillary Clinton’s calendar from her time as first lady shows only two days without a public engagement in June 2000.

The reason for Melania’s prolonged absence from the public eye has been the subject of speculation, with theories ranging from the plausible to the outlandish.

Politico summarises some of the more creative theories circulating online: “She’s left the White House and moved back to New York City. She’s cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. She’s holed up with the Obamas, working on a tell-all book about her husband - unless she had a secret nip and tuck, in which case she’s just healing.”

Melania’s only public communication during this time has come via six tweets. The most recent, sent on 30 May, addressed the mounting interest in her absence - but the unusual style of the message inflamed rather than cooled the speculation.

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The First Lady spoke of the media “working overtime” and herself “working overtime on behalf of the American people”, before signing off with an exclamation mark - all trademarks of her husband’s idiosyncratic Twitter style, HuffPost notes.

Donald’s own attempt to quell the chatter also backfired. Asked how his wife was doing, a week after her return to the White House, he pointed towards what appeared to be an empty window, saying: “She’s doing great... She’s doing great. Just looking at us, right there.”

Melania’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, has dismissed the rumours as “silly nonsense”, while the official line maintains that the First Lady is hard at work behind the scenes working for good causes.

Whatever the reason for her lengthy seclusion, those starting to suspect that the First Lady has disappeared altogether will at least have their concerns put to rest.

A White House spokeswoman has confirmed that Melania will accompany her husband to a reception for families of deceased service personnel today, ending her 24-day purdah.

However, don’t expect the speculation over her low profile to die down anytime soon: it has also been revealed that she will not attend the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec on Friday, nor the president’s high-stakes talks with Kim Jong Un in Singapore later this month.

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