Why were Melania and Ivanka Trump wearing all black with veils at the Vatican?
When First Lady Melania Trump accompanied the President to his meeting with Pope Francis, she wore a black long-sleeved Dolce and Gabbana dress with a veil.
White House adviser Ivanka Trump was also dressed all in black with a head covering.
So why did they look like they could have been attending a funeral? And why did they have their heads covered at the Vatican but not in Saudi Arabia where they had just been a few days earlier?
Vatican protocol dictates that women wear formal black “mourning clothes” with long sleeves and a veil during papal hearings — though there is an exception known as the “privilege du blanc”.
“The privilege of wearing a white dress during hearings with the Pope is only granted to Catholic queens or Catholic spouses of kings,” reads an explainer on the Vatican Insider website.
However, these rules have been broken by some including Queen Elizabeth (who, as the head of the Church of England, is about as non-Catholic as you can get) as well as Cherie Blair, former British prime minister Tony Blair’s wife — who violated protocol outright by wearing white to a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi have also both opted not to cover their heads in the past.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has strict laws regarding clothing, but head coverings are not required for foreigners and visiting dignitaries often go without — among them, British Prime Minister Theresa May and former first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush.
CNN asked Ms. Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham why a head covering was worn at the Vatican.
“Per Vatican protocol, women who have an audience with the Pope are required to wear long sleeves, formal black clothing, and a veil to cover the head,” she said.
Ms. Grisham said no such request to wear a head covering had come from Saudi Arabia.
However, it should be noted that Ms. Trump would have been required to wear a head covering and remove her shoes had she visited any mosques or Muslim holy sites.
The Trumps still dressed conservatively during their visit to the Islamic country, with the First Lady’s outfit on arrival reminiscent of the traditional black robes, or abayas, that Saudis wear.
The Arab News publication praised her for her “modest yet classy look”.
ABC/AP Topics:world-politics,catholic, holy-see-vatican-city-state, saudi-arabia,united-states