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She's not scheduled to accompany Trump to an annual world leaders' summit in Canada this weekend, or when he meets with North Korea's leader in Singapore next week. The president showed her to a seat in the front row before he headed for the stage.

Melania spent almost a week in hospital in May for what her office called a benign kidney problem but has not been seen publicly since May 10 and stayed home while the president travelled to Camp David over the weekend.

The fact she has not been seen in public for more than 24 days has led to questions over whether there is something more going on than recovery from a routine procedure, with freakish rumors including that she has been living with the Obamas, that she is secretly back in NY, and that she is writing a tell-all book about her husband.

As of today, the White House has promised that Melania is set to attend a closed-door event this evening for Gold Star families.

Since her surgery, Melania has stayed out of the public eye, which fueled a variety of theories as to the real reason why she hasn't been seen.

The first lady is not an elected position, and Mrs Trump is under no obligation to keep the American people abreast of her health, activities or whereabouts. She was released from the hospital with no complications on 19 May.

In recent days, communications director Stephanie Grisham has said the first lady is "doing really well", but had declined to provide details about her condition.

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"What has happened to Melania Trump?" read a Newsweek headline.

She sent early signals that she will not bow to speculation or public expectations about what she should be doing.

Such a weeks-long disappearance by a modern-day first lady is indeed rare, said Ohio University history professor Katherine Jellison, a specialist on president's wives.

"She is going to do this job her way", McBride said of Mrs. Trump.

It's still unclear when the first lady will make an appearance in public.

In April, she represented the Trumps at former first lady Barbara Bush's funeral, rolled out her "Be Best" awareness campaign to help children, and orchestrated an elaborate state dinner for the Macrons of France.

As Monday's event has made clear, however, rumours of the first lady's death have been greatly exaggerated.


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