Melania Trump is traveling to Canada Saturday
It's her first solo foreign trip as first lady
Melania Trump went to Canada for her first solo foreign trip as first lady, traveling to Toronto to lead the US delegation to the Invictus Games on Saturday.
During a whirlwind day trip, Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Great Britain’s Prince Harry, and attended the opening ceremony of the Paralympic-style games before returning to Washington.
“In just two short years, the Invictus Games have allowed thousands of injured and wounded servicemen and women from many different countries to participate in adaptive sports competitions – something that should be lauded and supported worldwide. I am honored by the opportunity to represent our country at this year’s games,” Trump said in a statement about the trip.
Trump stepped off her Boeing C-32 in a black-and-white checkered Christian Dior suit, and proceeded through Toronto by motorcade to a local hotel, where she met with Prince Harry.
“Mrs. Trump, may I introduce His Royal Highness,” an aide said as Harry entered the room.
They shook hands and visited for about 20 minutes, discussing the history of the Invictus Games. Joined by their respective chiefs of staff and communications directors, the two asked each other questions about their families, and there was some “friendly, competitive razzing” ahead of the games, according to the first lady’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham.
Trump extended an invitation to Prince Harry to visit the White House any time he is in the United States, Grisham said.
Later in the day, Trump met with Team USA, posing for a team photo and gave brief, encouraging remarks ahead of the opening ceremonies.
“I also want to wish you good luck, but I know you won’t need it in these games. Take that fighting spirit that I know you have, and bring home the gold,” she said to applause.
She stayed to personally shake hands and greet athletes for several minutes after her remarks.
Just before the opening ceremony, Trump met with Trudeau, as well as his wife, Sophie Gregoire, and their two eldest children. Trump commented on having seen the prime minister’s wife at a luncheon earlier this week and talked soccer with their eldest son.
Trump joined the US delegation in the stands at the Air Canada Centre for the opening ceremony. She sat beside Prince Harry.
The US delegation also included Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, as well as US Embassy Ottawa Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Moore Aubin, Gold Star mother Karen Kelly, professional golfer Nancy Lopez and entertainer Wayne Newton.
The Invictus Games were started in 2014 by Prince Harry, who was inspired to build global awareness for servicemen and women injured in combat. During the games, hundreds of participants compete in para-Olympic style activities, such as swimming, cycling, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Seventeen different countries are taking part in this year’s challenge.
Trump has already made visits to several countries as first lady with husband President Donald Trump. In May, she visited Saudi Arabia, Israel, Belgium and Italy. In July, she was by the President’s side in Poland and Germany, and made a quick trip to France for Bastille Day celebrations.
Trump will be following in the footsteps of former first lady Michelle Obama, who, with Prince Harry, kicked off the 2016 Invictus Games in the host city of Orlando.
A CNN poll released this week found that the first lady’s star is rising: 44% of respondents had a favorable opinion of Melania Trump, while 35% had an unfavorable view. Her husband, by contrast, has a 41% favorable/57% unfavorable rating.
While the first lady kept a low profile since moving into the White House in June, she has ramped up her public appearances in recent weeks, hosting a dinner for the White House Historical Association last week, visiting with children at Andrews Air Force Base, and traveling to Hurricane-ravaged Texas and Florida with the President in the wake of the two devastating storms.
On Wednesday, Trump assumed the spotlight in New York, hosting a luncheon for spouses of foreign leaders at the US Mission to the United Nations, where she delivered remarks on children’s issues. And on Friday, she showed off the White House Kitchen Garden, hosting a group of children and helping with the fall harvest.