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First lady Melania: 7 things you didn't know about Donald Trump's wife

First lady Melania: 7 things you didn't know about Donald Trump's wife

From nude photo shoots and a creepy phone call to a $100,000 wedding dress and a secret half-brother



1 - Melania is Donald's third wife

The former Melania Knauss started dating Donald Trump in 1998, married him in 2005 and gave birth to their son, Barron, the following year. Before Melania, Donald was married for a few years in the 1990s to Marla Maples, a television personality, former beauty queen and mother to their daughter Tiffany Trump. The couple met while the businessman was still with his first wife, Czechoslovakian Ivana Zelnickova, who he had married in 1977. They have three children – Ivanka, Eric and eldest child Donald Trump Jr, who, at 38, is eight years younger than his stepmother Melania.

Ivana and Donald were leading socialites in New York during the 1980s, but their marriage ended with a very public divorce in 1992. Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders says some of the inspiration for the show's fashionista Patsy Stone, played by Joanna Lumley, came from Ivana, who often sports a high blonde beehive.

2 - The Clintons went to her wedding

Bill and Hillary Clinton were among the 350 guests when Melania and Donald tied the knot at the groom's landmark Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. According to GQ, the bride wore a $100,000 Dior dress with 1,500 crystals, which took a "legendary" 550 hours to make. It had a 13ft train and the bride wore a 16ft veil. However, the gown was so difficult to walk in that Melania changed into a Vera Wang hand-ruched silk tulle Grecian dress for the poolside after-party. Her 12-carat, emerald-cut Graff wedding ring is said to be worth £1.5m.

Melania's sister, Ines, was the maid of honour and Donald's two sons, Donald Jr and Eric, served as best men. Guests including Heidi Klum, Barbara Walters and Simon Cowell "slurped caviar and Cristal in the shadow of a five-foot-tall Grand Marnier wedding cake", says GQ, while the Hollywood Reporter says the seven-tier "chef-d'oeuvre" weighed more than 200lbs.

3 - She grew up in communist Yugoslavia and speaks five languages

Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German, if you want to know. That linguistic prowess could come in handy at White House functions, but it has been suggested her thick accent is the reason she makes few public speeches alongside her immigrant-bashing husband.

Melania was raised away from the glamour of New York high society in a concrete tower block in then Yugoslavia during the rule of Marshal Josip Tito. Now that her husband has become president, Melania is set to become the first first lady to be born in a communist nation and only the second to be born abroad, after Louisa Adams, the English wife of sixth president John Quincy, who served from 1825 to 1829.

4 - She thinks people should be nicer to one another

In a rare campaign speech just five days before the election, Melania outlined her vision for what her role would be in the White House if she were to become first lady, saying she would work to combat a culture on social media that has become "too mean and too tough" and which is filled with insults based on "looks and intelligence".

But as CNN reports, "she didn't make any mention of the Twitter activities of her husband, Donald Trump, who has relentlessly attacked his political foes, journalists, critics and other entertainers for years with demeaning comments based on their appearances and intelligence".

Melania, giving her first solo speech since the Republican convention, added: "It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked. It is terrible when it happens on the playground, and it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet. We have to find a better way to talk to each other."

She continued: "We must find better ways to honour and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media. It will be one of the main focuses of my work, if I am privileged enough to become your first lady."

"There was a collective gasp across the nation going, 'Have you met your husband Donald?'" said Alice Stewart, a former Cruz campaign official, on CNN's The Lead on Thursday.

Lady Gaga, who is a Hillary Clinton supporter founded an anti-bullying nonprofit with her mother called the Born This Way Foundation.

5 - She has a secret half-brother

While preparing a profile of the incoming first lady for GQ, reporter Julia Ioffe made a startling discovery – Melania's father, Victor Knavs, who she describes as traditional and hardworking, fathered a secret son before marrying the model's mother.

Knavs agreed to pay child support after a court battle proved he was Denis Cigelnjak's father, a claim he initially contested, but he has never contacted his son nor acknowledged his existence. Now aged 50, Cigelnjak still lives in the family's native Slovenia.

Melania initially said the reports were false but later, confronted with court documents, claimed she had misunderstood the question and had known about her half-brother "for years".

6 - She is the only first lady to have posed nude

Three years before she met Donald Trump, Melania posed nude alongside for a French men's monthly magazine. The "bombshell" photo set, obtained by the New York Post, shows her lying naked in a bed alongside Scandinavian model Emma Eriksson.

Photographer Jarl Ale de Basseville, who took the pictures, says the images are "beauty and not porn", adding: "I always loved women together because I have been with a lot of women who desired the menage a trois."

An unnamed insider said Melania behaved "like a true professional" during the shoot and was "charming throughout".

Donald, meanwhile, said: "In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and common."

7 - She is the least popular presidential spouse since Hillary

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, Melania is the least popular presidential candidate spouse since Hillary Clinton.

A survey on the spouses and running mates of both presidential candidates saw Clinton's husband, former president Bill, named most popular, with more than half of respondents having a positive opinion of him. Clinton's prospective vice president, Tim Kaine, was next with a net favourability rating - those viewing him positively minus those viewing him negatively - of plus-19. Republican Mike Pence came in third, with plus-17, and Melania languished in last place, getting a net favourability rating of just plus-one.

"Melania Trump's popularity is lower than nearly any other recent candidate's spouse during an election year," the National Post says. "The most popular spouse was Barbara Bush, George H W Bush's wife. Michelle Obama was also viewed fairly positively at about this stage of 2012, though a little worse four years earlier, when she wasn't as well known."

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