Melania Trump chose Christian Dior while Michelle Obama went with Tom Ford – As Jill Biden sips tea with the queen, here is what the first ladies wore when meeting the British Royal family

China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan, Melania Trump and Michelle Obama show off the looks they wore to meet Queen Elizabeth at official engagements. Photo: AFP


Joe Biden will make his first presidential trip overseas this summer. The US president will visit the UK to attend the 47th G7 summit, as well as engaging in conversations with European Union leaders in Brussels and a highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The trip will also include a visit, accompanied by his wife Dr Jill Biden, said to be friendly with Prince Harry – to the British royal family, meeting the queen on June 13.

Over Queen Elizabeth’s almost seven-decade reign, the British monarch has greeted the most important world leaders and politicians as well as their partners – including in recent years former US President Donald Trump and wife Melania, Chinese President Xi Jinping and wife Peng Liyuan, the 44th US commander-in-chief Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama. But paying respects to the queen is a tradition that dates back generations – with memorable headline meets including the 1961 visit from the 35th US president John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy.

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When you are expecting to meet the queen, the first thing to consider is, what should I wear? Melania sought French luxury from Christian Dior and Italian label Dolce & Gabbana, while Michelle enlisted home-grown talent like Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren, and Peng opted for custom-made Chinese-inspired design. So here are the first ladies’ sartorial choices for their royal visit.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth stands with then-US president Donald Trump and wife Melania during a welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace in central London in June 2019, on the first day of their state visit to the UK. Photo: AFP

In 2019, the Trumps embarked on a trip to the UK – including a few formal visits to the British royal family – where Melania showed her know-how in diplomatic fashion as well as some covetable Hermès handbags. For the formal first meeting with the queen at Buckingham Palace, she went for one of her favourite designers – Dolce & Gabbana – donning a crisp minimalist white coat-style dress, accessorised with a navy blue collar and belt. The white-brimmed hat was crafted by designer and her long-term stylist Hervé Pierre.

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Donald and Melania Trump with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Photo: AP

For the state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth, Melania Trump opted for a white silk crepe gown by Christian Dior Haute Couture, coupled with Manolo Blahnik shoes.

US first lady Michelle Obama poses in the music room of Buckingham Palace ahead of a state banquet in May 2011 in London, England. Photo: AFP Photo

In 2011, former US first lady Michelle Obama attended a state dinner at Buckingham Palace in a stunning gown by American designer Tom Ford, who also had a mansion in London back then. The elegant floor-length dress featured a criss-cross halter neckline, along with the white opera gloves, oozing regal elegance.

Former US president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wait to greet Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, for a reciprocal dinner at Winfield House in London, in May 2011. Photo: AFP Photo

At the reciprocal dinner, Michelle Obama used her outfit to underscore the alliance between the two nations. She chose a black evening gown from one of America’s most established designers Ralph Lauren, paired with some chunky costume jewellery – a diamond necklace with its matching bracelet – by Irish designer Tom Binns.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan, at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in London, in October 2015. Photo: AFP Photo

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan paid a formal visit to the British queen. At a state banquet, China’s first lady sported a navy blue coat dress with subtle Chinese motifs, from a Mandarin collar to Chinese-style buttons. The elegant design was complemented and contrasted by the white slim belt, pearl earrings, brooch and her clutch.

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Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, China’s fist lady Peng Liyuan, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and China’s President Xi Jinping pose for photographers on arriving at Buckingham Palace on October 20, 2015, for the ceremonial welcome on the first official day of the Chinese president’s state visit. Photo: AFP Photo

At the ceremonial welcome for the Chinese leader’s four-day visit, Peng opted for a pearl white suit comprising of an over-the-knee skirt and jacket once again nodding to traditional Chinese aesthetics, including the embroidery detailing on the pocket of her jacket. She paired the look with white pearl earrings and a leaf-motif brooch and simple black heels.

Prince Philip, Jacqueline Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth and then-president John F. Kennedy pose for photographers after dinner at Buckingham Palace on June 5, 1961. Photo: Bettmann-UPI

You might have seen the famous scene in Netflix’s show The Crown when, back in 1961, JFK and his wife Jackie visited Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace. The 35th US first lady wore a light blue gown from New York-based designer Chez Ninon, a brand Kennedy often sported during her time in the White House.

Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.