How Melania Trump One-Upped Donald During Past Visits With The Royal Family

Whenever former President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump embarked on an international visit together, they did so as a united front — one team representing the United States. Still, even the most in-sync teams tend to have one member who's a bit more skilled than the other, and such was the case for the Trumps' approach to royal protocol. 

Indeed, when it came to following the strict rules and etiquette associated with the British royal family, Melania proved to be a bit more adept than her husband. And in a 2019 interview with CNN, former White House official Stephanie Grisham explained that this was no accident. "Mrs. Trump spends a significant amount of time preparing for every trip," Grisham said.

"This includes protocol briefings, event memos, logistics, speech preparation when applicable, and research and selection for the gift exchange." While the ex-POTUS undoubtedly spent time preparing in his own ways, he had far more noticeable breaches in royal protocol than Melania.

The former first lady spent hours researching the country she was planning to visit

While it would be reasonable to assume that former First Lady Melania Trump's Slovenian early years and time as an international model helped her navigate foreign cultures more skillfully, she clearly put a lot of work into researching the different nations she was either visiting or hosting at the White House. Moreover, the ex-FLOTUS' fashion-forward mindset certainly didn't hurt when it came to planning events, outfits, and gift exchanges.

When the Trumps hosted members of the royal family in 2019, a former White House official told CNN that the first lady spent hours planning the event, including helping choose the floral arrangements, food selections, the overall aesthetic theme, and where the guests would sit. Trump's former deputy chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said that the ex-FLOTUS spent ample time selecting gifts for the guests of honor, which is a crucial part of the foreign diplomacy process. 

Trump has also used her international visits to show off her best fashion moments. The former model has regularly worn ensembles that pay homage to whatever country she's visiting or hosting, like when she wore British designer Stella McCartney and traditional large hats while meeting with the royal family.

Donald Trump's forward American style is at odds with British monarchy tradition

Compared to his wife, Donald Trump has received considerably more flack for his breaches of royal protocol. One of the most notable ways that the ex-POTUS has forgone royal rules has to do with how he chose to greet the late Queen Elizabeth II. Instead of bowing as is typical (but not strictly required) when visiting the monarch, Trump opted for a stereotypically American greeting of a firm handshake every time he met with the queen.

The former president has also been known to break the rules of respecting the monarch's personal space. During a 2018 visit with the queen, Trump was caught walking in front of Queen Elizabeth and stopping abruptly, forcing the monarch to sidestep around him. The following year, the Trumps attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace where the then-president was seen placing his hand on the small of the queen's back. Per royal tradition, one shouldn't touch a member of the royal family unless they extend their hand first.

Other slip-ups Trump has made have been more socially-oriented, like when he disclosed comments the queen made about Brexit while speaking to Piers Morgan on "Good Morning Britain" (via X, formerly known as Twitter). Time reported that revealing private conversations with the monarch was unconventional for a head of state like the POTUS. Perhaps Donald should have attended more of Melania Trump's social protocol lessons.