Last July, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump dined with French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron at their invitation inside the famous Le Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, with sweeping views of Paris laid out in front of them.
The White House on Friday confirmed the Trumps will now return the favor of a private dinner inside a historical landmark, only on this side of the Atlantic.
When the Macrons arrive in Washington to be feted at the White House on the occasion of the administration’s first official state dinner April 24, they will spend the evening beforehand as dinner guests of the Trumps at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate on the banks of the Potomac River.
Melania Trump’s communications director, Stephanie Grisham, told CNN that the dinner, like the one in Paris, will just be for two couples; no other guests have been invited.
The selection of Mount Vernon is in many ways unique, yet obvious nonetheless. The former home of America’s founding father, Mount Vernon represents iconic Americana, with grounds and gardens extending for hundreds of acres around the main house, a sweeping white mansion with 21 rooms that now functions as a top tourist destination.
As the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, so, possibly, could one see is Mount Vernon to Washington. Both landmarks serve as a link to the country’s historic past, both welcome thousands and thousands of visitors each year, and both boast stunning views of their surroundings – though Mount Vernon’s is far more pastoral than the urban lights of Paris.
Mount Vernon has hosted several heads of states for visits; the King and Queen of Spain toured the grounds in 2015, as did Prince Charles and Camilla that same year.
However, a private presidential dinner at the estate is quite rare. One of Melania Trump’s predecessors, Jacqueline Kennedy, had the idea to host a full state dinner at Mount Vernon in 1961, the first outside of Washington proper.
Guests at the dinner, which was held to honor the President of Pakistan, arrived at the estate by four boats, which traveled across the Potomac from Washington. Mrs. Kennedy instructed a giant tent be erected on the lawn of Mount Vernon, decorated to a tee with yellow tablecloths and flowers and lit by candlelight. Guests had a multi-course meal prepared by the White House chef and served by 22 White House butlers.
In his toast to Pakistani President Ayub Khan, President John F. Kennedy mentioned the importance of the dinner’s location, saying: “Mount Vernon is not merely a beautiful home, but it also is, we hope, the symbol of the United States – the past, the present and we hope the future.”
The intimate Trump-Macron Mount Vernon double-date dinner will be the precursor to the black-tie White House state dinner the following night, which dozens of VIPs are expected to attend.