Melania Trump has revealed she always knew her husband would win the US presidential election ‘if and when he ran,’ as she opens up about how her childhood in Slovenia and travels as a model has led her to serve as First Lady.
While the former fashion model featured regularly as a cover girl during the heyday of her career, since her husband’s shock election in 2016 she hasn’t appeared on any major magazine front covers.
And Tatler’s November issue offers no exception. That honor was handed to another internationally recognized woman from a powerful family: Meghan Markle.
Opening up: Melania Trump, 50, spoke about her humble beginnings, her belief in capitalism, and President Donald Trump in an interview with Tatler
During the in-depth interview, Melania recalled how her husband announced on the Larry King Live show in 1999 that he was considering running for office, but she said they had known then that the time was not right.
‘We knew it wasn’t the time. But I did know that if and when he ran, he would win,’ she told the publication.
Following Trump’s stunning defeat of Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, he, his wife, and their son Barron moved from Trump Tower penthouse to the White House.
Cover: The interview is featured in the November issue of the British magazine
As First Lady, Melania launched her Be Best initiative, which focuses on well-being, online safety, and tackling opioid abuse.
After three and a half years in office, she shared that she is most proud of the measures the Trump administration has taken against addiction.
‘We have to take away the stigma and shame that comes with addiction and treat it as an illness,’ she said. ‘I’m proud of the strides and results this administration has made, resulting in saved lives.’
Melania was born Melanija Knavs in 1970 and grew up in the small industrial town of Sevnica, in Slovenia.
The economically crippled country was under the rulership of the Slovenia Communist Party at the time, with democracy not established until 1990.
Her father, Viktor Knavs, was a car dealer, and her mother, Amalija Knavs, was a designer for children’s clothing.
‘I grew up with a beautiful family and had a wonderful childhood,’ she said. ‘My mother and father taught us the importance of education, hard work, and family.’
Looking back: Melania recalled how her husband announced on the Larry King Live show in 1999 that he was considering running for office, but it wasn’t the right time
Confident: Melania, pictured at President Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, said she knew that ‘if and when he ran, he would win’
Role of a lifetime: Melania said her childhood in Slovenia, her life as an international model, and her time in New York has let to her ‘serving our great nation as First Lady’
Melania started modeling when she was 16, and by the time she was 18, she was signed with an agency in Milan, Italy. She worked in both Milan and Paris before she moved to New York in 1996.
She met her future husband at a fashion party in 1998, and they married in a lavish ceremony in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2005. A year later, they welcomed their only child together, Barron, who is now 14.
Trump has a total of five children. He shares three children — Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — with his first wife Ivana Trump, and he has a younger daughter — Tiffany — with his second wife Marla Maples.
Melania told Tatler that her childhood and subsequent years living across Europe had prepared her for where she is now.
‘Growing up in Slovenia, living in both Milan and Paris at a young age, then moving to the United States and living in New York City in my 20s — all of that has led to my serving our great nation as First Lady,’ she said.
Melania is the first First Lady to be a naturalized citizen as well as the first whose native language is not English.
When asked how her life experiences and growing up under communism had shaped her, she said: ‘I can tell you that I believe in free-market capitalism.’
Accomplishments: Melania, pictured at Concord Hospital in New Hampshire, said she is most proud of the measures the Trump administration has taken against addiction
Making history: Melania, pictured with Queen Elizabeth II in December, is the first First Lady to be a naturalized citizen as well as the first whose native language is not English
Family: The President and First Lady have one child together, 14-year-old Barron
Melania’s interview is promoted on the cover of the magazine with the headline: ‘The final days of the First Lady? Melania talks to Tatler.’
While she rarely does in-depth interviews, she does not star on the cover of the November issue, with Meghan Markle featured.
Last year, the First Lady became embroiled in a high-profile spat with legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour after she passed on having her as the cover star of the fashion magazine.
‘To be on the cover of Vogue doesn’t define Mrs. Trump, she’s been there, done that long before she was First Lady,’ spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said at the time.
Wintour never specifically expressed she would never feature Melania Trump on the cover again but suggested she isn’t enthused by the prospect – partly because she said the magazine is not impartial when it comes to politics.
‘I believe and I think that those of us that work at Conde Nast believe that you have to stand up for what you believe in and you have to take a point of view,’ Wintour said to CNN at the time.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on the cover of the magazine three times while her husband was in office. The magazine has also featured New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and former first Hillary Clinton.
‘Obviously these are women that we feel are icons and inspiring to women from a global perspective,’ Wintour continued. ‘I also feel even more strongly now that this is not a time to try — and I think one has to be fair, one has to look at all sides — but I don’t think it’s a moment not to take a stand.’
Grisham said the comments demonstrate how ‘insecure’ and ‘small-minded’ the Vogue editor is in retort.
But similarly to Vogue, other high profile publications have shunned Melania from its covers during her more than three years as first lady.
Her absence from their front pages has mirrored her broader lack of public appearances and comments.
Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, told NBC that ‘some magazine editors may be putting politics ahead of money and vice versa,’