Why Melania covered head in Rome but not in Saudi Arabia

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2017

While they have a diplomatic meeting today, in the past their was a lot of friction.

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican City on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

Leave aside the "controversy", the answer to this is quite simple: Following the tradition of other diplomats, Melania made a decision to forgo a head covering when she visited the capital of Saudi Arabia - a luxury yet to be extended to other foreign women, or the kingdom's female residents.

Trump also met the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and its Secretary for relations with states, Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican said.

Or even when Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, was at the Vatican last time.

There have also been instances where those accompanying senior leaders have been more brazen about their choices of attire in presence of the religious leader.

First Lady Trump's spokeswoman told CNN a black dress with long, flowing sleeves she wore in Saudi Arabia was chosen to resemble the country's abayas. Wearing white is a privilege only allowed to royals when meeting the pontiff.

The encounter between the tenants of the White House and Pope Francis went without any hitch.

But the Trumps' clothing choices in both Riyadh and the Vatican nonetheless sent clear messages about the attitude of the United States towards Islamic and Catholic values and tradition.

Most Western VIP women who visit Saudi Arabia don't cover their heads, including British Prime Minister Theresa May and Merkel. Melania was then slated to visit the Vatican-owned Bambin Gesu pediatric hospital, while Ivanka and her husband took part in a roundtable on human trafficking at the Community of St Egidio Catholic charity. Her attire during the two-day visit hewed to the protocol for high-level female visitors: modest dress, longer sleeves, higher necklines, trousers and long dresses.

No one, in the first four months of the tumultuous Trump administration, has publicly gone to bat for President Donald Trump quite like Sean Spicer.

In Israel, the Trumps visited the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. "It was not required for her to wear a headscarf and nobody asked her to, and based on that she chose not to". Finally, it is an exchange between the sovereign pontiff and Melania Trump that seems to have caught the attention of the press.

In keeping with Orthodox Jewish tradition, men and women pray separately at the wall.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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