Where is Melania Trump? She hasn't been seen in public for three weeks

Melania Trump
Melania Trump had a minor operation, but hasn't been seen in public since. Photo credit: Getty

It's been 22 days since Melania Trump has been seen in public.

And now the White House has announced the First Lady won't be accompanying her husband to the presidential retreat at Camp David this weekend.

Last month, Ms Trump was checked into hospital in Washington for what was described as "an embolisation procedure to treat a benign kidney condition".

She - or somone with her Twitter password - tweeted about her absence on Friday (NZ time), saying she was aware of the speculation around her whereabouts, reassuring followers she was "here at the White House [with] my family, feeling great, and working hard on behalf of children and the American people".

Asked how she was doing last week, Donald Trump pointed at a window and told reporters she was "right there". Ms Trump wasn't there.

"It's unusual over the course of the past 50 years for a first lady not to be in public view, and, when she is out of the spotlight for a prolonged period, not to tell people what's going on," history professor Katherine Jellison of Ohio University told UK paper Metro.

But she's not under any obligation to tell people what she's doing, Prof Jellison said.

"The danger in a situation like this if you don't have some control over the narrative, then people's imaginations go wild."

And that's what is happening. Online, speculation has been rife. According to US political news site Politico, theories include:

  • that her and the US President have split, and she's planning a tell-all book about their marriage
  • that she's flipped, and is cooperating with the investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia
  • that her health isn't as good as Mr Trump and the White House is letting on
  • that she's moved in with the Obamas.
Melania Trump
Melania Trump has a better relationship with the Obamas than her husband, some have joked. Photo credit: Getty

But none of that is true, at least according to White House officials.

 "She is doing great," spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told media last week.

"Sadly, we deal with conspiracy theories all the time, so this is nothing new, just more silly nonsense. She is doing great. I wouldn't characterise it as a long absence. She was hospitalised for almost a week and is now home and recovering."

Politico said aides close to Ms Trump said she wants to stay out of the spotlight her husband enjoys.