With the dramatic backdrop of Winston Churchill’s family palace behind her, first lady Melania Trump chose a dramatically sweeping Grecian-goddess ballgown of buttery yellow to wear to a black-tie dinner Thursday on the opening evening of the Trumps’ first official visit to Britain.
The pale gown by J. Mendel was made of chiffon, fitted in the ruched, off-the-shoulder bodice and falling from the waist in a princess-style sweep of faint pleats.
The panels that fell from each shoulder the length of the gown gave the impression, especially from the front, of a cape – one of Trump’s favorite style looks.
The ready-to-wear gown is sold out on the French label’s website but it originally sold for $6,990 and dropped down to $2,996.
Trump’s usual towering heels were in a matching color. Her hair was styled slightly different than usual, shorter, parted on the right side and sweeping across her forehead.
She wore her massive diamond engagement ring on her hand but nothing else sparkly except stud earrings mostly hidden under her hair.
Trump stood out standing next to British Prime Minister Theresa May, in a berry-red sleeveless sheath gown plus red pumps a bit higher than her usual kitten heels.
President Trump and May’s husband, Philip May, both wore tuxedos.
As compelling as the women’s gowns, the Blenheim Palace setting was just as impressive. Home to the Dukes of Marlborough, Blenheim (nearly 200 rooms on 2,000 acres) is more Downtown than “Downtown Abbey” and way bigger.
Winston Spencer-Churchill, a grandson of a Duke of Marlborough, was born there in 1874 to Lord Randolph Churchill and his American wife, Jennie Jerome, later Lady Churchill. (Incidentally, the late Princess Diana, the former Lady Diana Spencer, also was related to the Dukes of Marlborough.)
Blenheim, which is open to the public for tours, is a country house in Oxfordshire, west of London. Built in the early 18th century, it is still the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough, and the only non-royal, non-church country house in England to hold the title of palace.
The two couples walked up a red carpet to the palace steps in front of the portico, turned and faced the wide Great Court to watch the ceremonial welcome by the bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards in scarlet uniforms with their distinctive bearskin hats.
Four gold-clad state trumpeters from the Household Cavalry Band played a royal-sounding flourish, and the bands began to play, marching around the Great Court as the Trumps and Mays looked on.
The trumpeters, last seen at Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle’s wedding at Windsor Castle in May, wore pure gold cloaks they don only in the presence of the queen or a head of state.
A bagpiper finished playing a stirring rendition of “Amazing Grace,” the sun broke through the clouds and shone brightly on the plaza.
The Trumps are joining the Mays and a host of British business leaders at a black-tie dinner at the palace as they begin their short, first official visit to Britain.
The Trumps are scheduled to meet Queen Elizabeth II Friday at Windsor Castle, and the president will meet with May at Chequers, the country home of the prime minister, earlier in the day.
They are scheduled to spend the weekend in Scotland where Trump owns two golf courses.