Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump are two polarizing women. They never hesitate to speak their minds, and what they have to say shapes everything from national opinion to national policy. But what do they have to say about each other?
These two leading ladies haven’t said much about one another. But we’ve picked up everything they have said and done in recent years to uncover the mystery of how Ivanka and Melania Trump really feel about each other.
Ivanka and Melania started out on the right foot
From the outside looking in, you might expect Ivanka and Melania to clash more than the average stepmother and stepdaughter. That’s because there is only an age gap of 11 years between Ivanka and stepmom Melania.
In reality, though, they really got started on the right foot. In 2004, a year before Donald and Melania got married, Ivanka gushed about Melania to New York Magazine. She described her future stepmom, saying, “She’s really nice” and “She’s a good person, and we appreciate that.”
Ivanka then said, “I think we’re all getting to know her a little bit more now.” Considering what would happen later, these words seem downright ominous!
Ivanka and Melania find common ground
Some people expected Ivanka and Melania to clash for a simple reason: Donald Trump was now on his third marriage. So you might think that Ivanka Trump, daughter of his first wife Ivana, would be wary of yet another new mother figure in her life.
According to Ivana, though, her daughter was initially just happy that Melania was not a homewrecker. In 2019, she told The Atlantic that Ivanka likes Melania “because she didn’t cause me to break up the marriage like [Marla Maples].” Furthermore, when newspapers published negative comments Ivana made about Melania, Ivanka stood up for her new stepmom.
In her book Raising Trump, Ivana wrote, “Ivanka called me that day and said Melania was upset about the article. I texted Melania, saying, ‘You have never done anything wrong to me and I never have to you. You are in the family and I would never do anything against the family. Love, Ivana.’ That smoothed things over.”
More like friends than mother and daughter
Another reason why Ivanka and Melania Trump got along at first is quite simple. To Melania, Ivanka is more of a friend than a daughter.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Melania summed up her thoughts about Ivanka and other Trump children from previous marriages. “I don’t see myself as their mother. I am their friend, and I’m here when they need me.”
Ivanka seemed to echo this relationship in her book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. In that book, she wrote, “You give generously of your time and attention and I appreciate your support and friendship.”
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Ivanka stood by Melania during a plagiarism scandal
It’s easy to stand by one another when things are going well. But after Donald Trump started his run for president, Ivanka proved that she would still stand by Melania’s side during major scandals.
When Melania delivered a speech to the Republican National Convention in 2016, the public quickly discovered that large chunks of her speech were similar to a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama. As people all over the world accused Melania of plagiarism, Ivanka stood up for her stepmom.
Ivanka told People that Melania is “very smart, she’s very warm, [and] she’s got an incredible heart.” While this is not exactly a denial, Ivanka told the world they should focus on the warmth and generosity of Melania. While this was a sweet sentiment, the relationship between the two women would cool once Donald Trump became president.
Power changes people
Once Donald Trump became president, Ivanka and Melania mostly stopped commenting on each other in public. But we’ve gotten glimpses of their transformed relationship thanks to insiders in their circle.
For example, Vanity Fair reported that the women had a “frosty” relationship after Donald Trump’s presidential win. And CNN, going off of sources from Free, Melania writer Kate Bennett, claimed that Ivanka and Melania are now “cordial, but not close.”
At first glance, this doesn’t sound too bad. But in the coming years, their relationship would continue to fray according to insider reports.
Ivanka and Melania have a showdown
One of the reasons that Ivanka and Melania Trump got along so well is because they think alike. However, this would eventually lead to a truly weird fight between the two women.
In 2018, both women independently planned a goodwill visit to Africa. And both women were planning to use that trip to positively discuss some of the upcoming White House platforms for the coming years.
The New York Times quoted some of Ivanka’s friends who claimed that Ivanka “noticeably bristled” at the idea people would conflate her more extensive responsibilities with those of Melania. And in Kate Bennett’s unauthorized Melania biography, the writer claims, “[Ivanka’s] trips were… too close for comfort for Melania, who thought Ivanka was invading her turf.”
Ivanka and Melania reportedly have weird nicknames for each other
What’s in a name? As it turns out, quite a bit, especially when it comes to weird nicknames among family members.
Mary Jordan, writer of The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump, claims that Melania refers to Ivanka as “The Princess.” Furthermore, the book alleges that Ivanka refers to Melania as “The Portrait.”
These nicknames aren’t inherently negative, of course. But it does paint an image of Melania seeking Ivanka as an ambitious climber and Ivanka seeing Melania as a still and silent decoration in the White House.
Ivanka and Melania’s White House turf war
As you may remember, Melania Trump kicked off a minor scandal when she initially refused to move into the White House. Instead, she stayed back in New York so that Barron could complete the school year (and, depending on whom you talk to, she allegedly took this time to renegotiate her pre–nup).
According to author Mary Jordan in The Art of Her Deal, Ivanka used Melania’s White House absence to make some big moves. “According to several people, [Ivanka] was eyeing real estate in the East Wing… the domain of the first lady. Among other proposals, Ivanka suggested renaming the ‘First Lady’s Office’ the ‘First Family Office.”
This did not go over well with Melania. “Melania did not allow that to happen,” Jordan wrote. “It was tradition, and she was not going to let her stepdaughter change it… Ivanka’s office remained in the West Wing.”
And Jordan claims that once Melania did move in, her priority was to keep Ivanka from “[treating] the private residence as if it were her own home.”
Was this the end of Ivanka and Melania’s friendship? Not necessarily. But according to Jordan, it was the beginning of some distance between the ladies. “Melania did not like it… she put an end to the ‘revolving door’ by enforcing firm boundaries.”