-- Former Slovenian supermodel Melania, 45, married Donald Trump in 2005
-- Mrs Trump is the mistress of some of the most lavish homes in America
-- 24 years younger than Trump, she's been accused of marrying for money
-- This week she said it was her husband's 'mind' she was first attracted to
-- And that mind may propel Melania and Donald Trump to the White House
With its imposing splendour and sumptuous glamour, few people come away unimpressed from White House — a fitting home for a man who is master of all he surveys, reports Mail Online.
But for Melania Trump, one just hopes it will not be a terrible comedown.
As Americans try to come to terms with the astonishing prospect that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump really could become the next US president, curiosity about the woman who might be America’s First Lady is growing.
As these new pictures make dazzlingly clear, the former Slovenian supermodel is the couture-clad mistress of some of the most lavishly appointed homes in America.
Most of the photos were taken in the glittering bauble that tops the outspoken billionaire’s property tree — a vast triplex apartment at the top of the 68-floor Trump Tower in Manhattan with fabulous views across Central Park.
Designed to evoke the Palace of Versailles (though even Louis XVI was never this garish), it boasts a cavernous hall of mirrors, acres of marble set off by “24-carat gold and diamond accents,” and ceilings hand-painted with cherubs and scenes from Greek myths.
Trump also owns Seven Springs, a huge mansion outside New York in the upmarket hamlet of Bedford, which boasts 60 rooms, two servants’ wings, 15 bedrooms, three swimming pools and 230 acres of land.
There is another mansion in rural Virginia, a huge house on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and a vast waterside pile at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
Melania is certainly not embarrassed by the ostentatiousness, regularly posting pictures of her extravagant existence on social media.
At 45, 24 years younger than Trump, she has for years had to put up with people sniggering that all she sees in him is a great big dollar sign. Asked this week what it was that first attracted her to him, Melania avoided the obvious trap.
“His mind, his amazing mind,” she said in her still thick Eastern European accent, narrowing her kohl-covered blue eyes for extra emphasis.
That mind may yet propel the Trumps to the White House, a remarkable achievement not just for him, but for a young woman who came to the US 19 years ago from the communist privations of the former Yugoslavia.
The ambitious immigrant who became the third Mrs Trump may yet become the first foreign-born First Lady since Louisa Adams, the British-born wife of 1820s president John Quincy Adams.
First Ladies tend to fall into two categories: those content to look fragrant and fade gently into the background, and those — such as Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt — who make their presence felt not only in the White House but also in government.
Melania’s virtual absence from the Trump nomination campaign, barely opening her mouth when she does appear, has left many convinced she would fall into the former First Lady category.
This week, she finally spoke out, perhaps keen to dispel widespread assumptions that Trump married her for her looks rather than her brains.
“I’m not a “yes” person,” Melania told Us Weekly magazine in one of a clutch of interviews. “I give him my opinions.” Sometimes, he follows them, sometimes he does not, she says. “Do I agree with him all the time? No, I don’t, and I tell him that.”
While he is on the campaign trail, they talk on the phone several times a day and Melania will opine on political developments.
Happily for marital harmony, she seems to agree with Trump on his most provocative views. She defended his controversial call to ban Muslims from entering the US, saying: “He wants to protect people of America. What’s going on in the world, it’s very dangerous.”
As a fellow immigrant, she was asked, wasn’t she offended by Trump’s vitriolic attacks on Mexican “illegals” (he suggested most were rapists and drug-dealers)?
No, she countered, she never dreamed of staying in the US illegally. She says she renewed her work visa every few months until she could get permanent residency through a Green Card and eventually US citizenship.
Melania insists she is not a nagging wife, which is just as well given Trump’s many perceived failings.
Asked to reveal her secret to a happy marriage, she said simply: “Separate bathrooms.”
There will be plenty of those to spare in the White House and the increasingly confident-sounding Trump — who has commandingly won three of the first four state primaries — already talks of how his wife would be an “amazing representative for our country.”
Melania has shrugged off any First Lady talk, insisting her main priority is to be a mother to their nine-year-old son, Barron.
She does not even have a nanny, she says, though she does have her own chef.
US pundits love to talk about the death of the American Dream as the economic expectations of ordinary people stagnate. But Melania has certainly managed it, coming a long way from modest roots in communist-era Yugoslavia.
The daughter of a car dealer, she grew up in Sevnica, a quiet industrial town, where the family was wealthy enough to go skiing in Austria.
Childhood friends remember Melanija Knavs, as she was then called, as a tall, skinny, well-mannered and shy girl who was a conscientious student.
She was 17 when a photographer spotted the 5ft 11in beauty and persuaded her to try modelling.
By 18, she had signed with a Milan modelling agency and was jetting between Paris and Italy on assignments, posing for photographers such as Helmut Newton and Mario Testino, while taking a design and architecture degree in what was now Slovenia.
Melania, who says she speaks five languages, changed her name to the more Germanic “Knauss” and moved to New York in 1996.
She met Trump two years later at a fashion industry party. She was 28, he was 52 and recently separated from his second wife, bit-part actress Marla Maples.
Trump’s first wife, Ivana, is Czech-born: East European women clearly appeal to him.
Despite being on a date with another woman, he asked Melania for her phone number. She played a little hard to get, demanding his number instead and waiting three days before ringing him. They were soon an item.
Posing regally in what could be called the “Trump-L’Oeil” Versailles of their Manhattan palace, she looks and sounds the picture of respectability.
The Trumps married in Palm Beach in 2005, a $1 million affair in which Melania wore a $100,000 Dior dress and guests ate a 50lb Grand Marnier wedding cake.
Their son Barron was born a year later and she inherited four grown-up stepchildren.
She has launched a jewellery collection and skincare range that included a $150-an ounce, caviar-infused moisturiser she said she slathers on her son.
“Melania is someone who can talk you down from a ledge, whatever crisis you may be in,” says Rachel Roy, a fashion designer chum.
Friends say Melania is quiet and gracious, and has a calming influence on her excitable husband. For that, if nothing else, we may all one day be truly thankful.