When Melania and Barron Trump moved from Trump Tower in New York City to the White House during the summer of 2017, Melania’s parents, Viktor Knavs, 78, and Amalija Knavs, 75, accompanied them on the trip. They’ve since become familiar faces in the nation’s capital—and can often be seen traveling alongside President Trump and the First Lady. Here’s what you should know about the couple that raised Melania Trump.
Amalija and Viktor Knavs are now US citizens.
The Knavses took an oath of citizenship in August 2018 after appearing at the federal immigration offices in New York City. Prior to that time, Melania’s parents had been permanent U.S. residents living in the country with green cards.
The pair attended the 2020 Republican National Convention.
Amalija and Viktor sat directly behind the President and Vice President for their daughter’s RNC speech in the White House Rose Garden. The First Lady thanked her parents in her address, while discussing her background. “My parents worked very hard to ensure our family could not only live and prosper in America, but also contribute to a nation that allows for people to arrive with a dream and make it reality,” she said. “I want to take the moment to thank my mother and father for all that they have done for our family. It is because of you that I am standing here today.”
They regularly travel with the first family.
Amalija and Viktor, pictured here, disembark Marine One with President Trump, Melania, and Barron at the White House.
They live part-time in the White House.
Barron is very close to grandparents, with whom he reportedly speaks Slovenian, and Politico described them as “hyperinvolved” in his life. Politico also reported in 2017 that Melania’s parents would “become more familiar figures around the White House”—much the way Michelle Obama’s mother Marian Robinson did when she moved into the presidential mansion. According to The New York Times, the Knavs “split their time among an apartment in Trump Tower, Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and the suite in the White House once used by Mrs. Obama’s mother.“
Viktor and Amalija Knavs are pictured far left with the rest of the Trump family on stage at the Republican National Convention.
They attend events there regularly.
Viktor and Amalija Knavs sat in the front row, next to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardoning Ceremony in the Rose Garden on November 21, 2017. They traveled to Mar-a-Lago with the first family to celebrating Thanksgiving, too.
They used to split their time between Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, and Bedminster.
Prior to their Washington, D.C. move, the Knavs family were in keeping the rest of the Trump family—a pattern they’ve followed since their daughter married Donald Trump. They reportedly lived in Trump Tower in Manhattan, and are frequent fixtures at Mar-a-Lago, a member of the club explained.
They maintain close ties to Sevnica, their hometown in Slovenia.
The first lady was born in Sevnica, a small town with about 5,000 residents that’s an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital. During Melania’s childhood, Slovenia was known as Yugoslavia and was under the rule of Communist President Josip Tito. The Knavses reportedly “still own their house [in Sevnica] and visit two or three times a year,” according to GQ.
Viktor and Amalija met in Sevnica in 1966.
At the time, Viktor was working as the chauffeur for the mayor of a nearby town and Amalija was a pattern-maker at a children’s clothing factory. They are shown here in 1967, according to the caption posted by the first lady’s sister, Ines.
They didn’t start in the penthouse.
The couple originally lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Sevnica.
Viktor built a business.
After his chauffeur job, Viktor became a traveling salesman for a state-owned car company. “In contrast to the privations that so many suffered in Communist times, the Knavses lived well,” GQ reports. While Viktor was reportedly a card-carrying member of the Sevnica Communist Party, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the New York Times that Knavs had never been an “active member” of the party. He amassed a collection of Mercedes sedans and a “coveted” Maserati, and GQ describes Amalija as “always impeccably dressed and perfectly coiffed,” even when “times were lean” under Communist rule.
Viktor is 2 years older than his son-in-law, Donald.
Born in 1944, Viktor is 78 years old. Amaljia is 75.
Victor and Amalija have 2 daughters.
The Knavses’s first daughter, Ines, is about a year older than the first lady. The sisters are shown here at Mar-a-Lago with Palm Beach philanthropist Audrey Gruss. They changed their last name from Knavs to its German form, Knauss.
Amalija and Viktor made their first trip to America in February 2004.
The couple visited New York City and Mar-a-Lago, where Trump may have asked for their blessing to marry their daughter; he proposed at the Costume Institute Gala at the Met that April. Here, Amalija is pictured with Melania at a Zac Posen fashion show in New York on February 12, 2004.
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