The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–Style experts who have been eager to pit the fashion selections of Sophie Gregoire Trudeau against those of Melania Trump at this week’s G7 summit are going to be sorely disappointed.
The American first lady is sending her regrets.
Melania’s spokeswoman confirmed she will not travel to either Quebec for the G7 or Singapore later this month for the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Jean Harris, a politics professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, says skipping Singapore makes some sense because there is no clear social role for a spouse amid the tensions of that meeting.
However, there always are partner programs at summits like the G7 to help showcase the local region and build additional relationships between the leaders of the world’s biggest democracies.
“You do expect spouses at the G7,” said Harris. “There’s lots of media attention.”
The first lady’s absence is adding fodder to the Trump critics and online conspiracy theorists who say Melania Trump has not been seen publicly since May 10 and wonder if it’s because she’s no longer willing to play the pretty spouse role on the president’s arm in the wake of revelations about his pay-offs to women with whom he allegedly had affairs since marrying Melania.
The more likely reason, said Harris, is that Melania underwent surgery for a benign kidney condition on May 14.
She did attend the G7 summit last year in Italy and also travelled to Germany in July for the G20, although she spent part of that trip trapped in her hotel suite while violent protests raged outside.
Her security guards didn’t feel it was safe for her to go out.
The first lady has been to Canada once before, travelling to Toronto for her first solo foreign trip last September for the Invictus Games, where she represented her husband and met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife, and their two eldest children.
Melania and Gregoire Trudeau also participated in the meeting between their husbands at the White House last October.
While Melania has been on most of her husband’s foreign trips to date, she did cancel plans to join him at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January just days before Trump’s departure, citing scheduling conflicts.
She also skipped the last two stops on his Asian trip in November, going with him to Japan, South Korea, and China but staying behind in Beijing when her husband went on to Vietnam and the Philippines.
Canadian officials working on the G7 summit did not respond to requests yesterday about what will be on this year’s spouses’ agenda.
It’s possible a boat trip on the St. Lawrence, tours of the local art galleries, and a presentation of regional cuisine will highlight the agenda.