WATCH

Melania Trump Covers Her Hair at the Vatican, Unlike in Saudi Arabia and the Western Wall

Focus on Melania Trump's headwear began when the Trumps landed in Saudi Arabia last week, a country wear women are legally required to cover their hair, and the first lady did not

Pope Francis shakes hands with First lady Melania Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017
L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP

As U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived at the Vatican on Wednesday morning to meet Pope Francis, much of the media took note of the fact that the first lady covered her hair with a black lace head scarf. Melania Trump's native Slovenia is a conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic country. 

Melania is following the traditional dress code for women during a private audience with the pope at the Vatican - unless you are a Catholic queen, in which case you can wear white. Michelle Obama also wore black and a veil when she met Benedict XVI.

It's possible the Trumps opted for the traditional dress code given the amount of scrutiny they are under and perhaps remembering that Cherie Blair was heavily criticized when she wore white for a meeting with Benedict in 2006.

Focus on Melania Trump's headwear began when the Trumps landed in Saudi Arabia last week, a country wear women are legally required to cover their hair, and the first lady did not, even when meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman - something Trump had previously criticized Michelle Obama for also doing. Western female leaders and first wives have not covered their hair in Saudi Arabia now for many years, including Angel Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with Saudi King Salman at the Royal Court Palace, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh.
Evan Vucci/AP

Melania Trump did not cover her hair while visiting holy sites in Israel either. Ivanka Trump, who did not cover her hair in Saudi Arabia, wore a a hat at the Western Wall in Israel, she is a convert to Orthodox Judaism, and a head scarf at the Vatican as well.

US First Lady Melania Trump visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017
AFP PHOTO / POOL / Heidi Levine