President Trump and first lady Melania meet Pope Francis during a private audience at the Vatican. Reuters/Evan Vucci/Pool

US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis finally met at the Vatican, the former's third stop on a nine-day international tour. Melania, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner were in attendance, too.

The meeting between the leader of the free world and the head of the Catholic Church emphasised areas of agreement between the new administration and the Vatican. But aside from the agenda, the first lady’s outfit during the papal meeting has not skipped public attention.

People are scratching their heads, asking why Melania opted for a black Dolce & Gabbana dress and lace veil. The first lady previously made headlines when she skipped the headscarf during their visit to Saudi Arabia.

Since Melania sported a veil in her meeting with the pope, accusations of double standards were raised for the Trumps. Some claimed they would skip the headwear in a Muslim-majority country but would wear one before the head of the Catholic Church. The first daughter wore a long, black dress and a veil, too.

Melania’s fashion statement

Women are required to wear a humble dress in dark colour, preferably black, during papal hearings. The dress should fall below the knee, and extravagant jewellery must be avoided.

According to The Vatican Insider, the only women exempted from such requirement are Catholic queens and Catholic spouses of kings like Queen Paola of Belgium, Queen Sofia of Spain, and the Grand Duchess of Maria Teresa of Luxembourg. All three of them were from Catholic monarchies.

Melania’s communications director Stephanie Grisham confirmed the protocol through a statement to CNN. “Per Vatican protocol, women who have an audience with the Pope are required to wear long sleeves, formal black clothing, and a veil to cover the head,” she said.

In Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, head coverings are not required for women from outside the kingdom. Before Melania, British Prime Minister Theresa May and former US first ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama opted not to wear one during their visits to the country.

Grisham said that Saudi Arabia did not request the FLOTUS to wear a head covering. “It was not required for her to wear a headscarf and nobody asked her to, and based on that she chose not to."

Despite the lack of headscarf, local media had kind words for Melania’s fashion statement during the visit. Arab News described her outfit as “classy and conservative.”

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