First Lady of the USA

How to Address the First Lady: Melania Trump

While Melania Trump is the First Lady and is typically identified on the news and in the media as First Lady Melania Trump such references are examples of a news reader/writer identifying Mrs. Trump in the third person for clarity. Spouses of officials recieve no special form of address based on being married to an elected U.S. official. How to Address the First Lady of a USA

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-Mrs. Trump
—-—-The White House
—-—-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
—-—-Washington, DC 20500

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Mrs. Trump:

—-Complimentary close:
—-—-Sincerely,

—-Introduction to a group:
—-—-Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States of America

—-Introduction, one person to another:
—-—-Mrs. Trump

—-Conversation:
—-—-Mrs. Trump

The term First Lady has not traditionally been used as an honorific in direct address with First Ladies of the United States. Spouses of US officials receive no special form of address – they are private citizens – they hold no elected office. Being first lady is a role … not an office. They often attend events as the President’s official representative and always get a good seat at events, but any official courtesies they receive are as a courtesy to their spouse – the office holder. How to Address the First Lady of a USA

NOTE: In contrast, ‘First Lady’ is traditionally used as an honorific for the wife of the pastor in many African-American congregations, but that is not the tradition for the spouse of United States elected officials. See that form by following the link in the list right for First Lady Church.

—-#1) When addressing a letter, the traditional form of address to any first lady is to ‘Mrs. (Surname)’ in care of the White House. Using just the surname is not confusing at the White House as to whom the letter should be delivered.

—-#2) If a first lady were to have as elevated form of address (honorific) ¬– e.g. Dr. – she would be addressed in writing as ‘Dr. (her given name + surname)’ and orally as ‘Dr. (Surname)’.

—-#3) A husband of a POTUS would be addressed in writing using the same pattern, except – if he used the same surname he would be ‘Mr. (FULL name)’. If he had some elevated form of address, – e.g. Dr. – he would be addressed in writing using the same pattern as noted in the paragraph above –– ‘Dr. (his given name + surname)’ and ‘Dr. (Surname)’. I have more detailed information in my book, but here on the site those are the basics.

—-Envelope, official:
—-—-Mrs. (Surname)
—-—-The White House
—-—-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
—-—-Washington, DC 20500

—-—-Mr. (full name)
—-—-The White House
—-—-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
—-—-Washington, DC 20500

—-Letter salutation: (See note above)
—-—-Dear Mrs./Mr. (Surname):

– Robert Hickey   How to Address the First Lady of a USA

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

How to Address a Former First Lady?

How should a letter and envelope to a former First Lady be addressed?
——–The Honorable (full name)?
—-—-First Lady (full name)
—-—-Mrs. (full name)

—-—-—-—-– W.T. Wynne

Dear Mr. Wynne:

—-#1) A First Lady is not ‘the Honorable (Full Name)’ based on being the ‘First Lady’. To be addressed as ‘the Honorable’ she would have had to meet the same requirement as everyone else, e.g., have been elected to office in a general election, etc.

—-#2) She would be identified in an introduction as the ‘First Lady of the United States from (year) to (year)’ and she is addressed as a private citizen.

—-#3) Formally a former First Lady of the United States is addressed on an envelope as:
—-—-Mrs. (Husband’s Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

—-Or you could use the form used with a current First Lady:
—-—-Mrs. (Surname)
—-—-(Address)

—-And the salutation would have been:
—-—-Dear Mrs. (Surname)

—-Note #A: Laura Bush used ‘Mrs. Laura Bush’ on invitations when she was in the White House. Some people surmised it was to differentiate her invitations from her mother-in-law’s who was also ‘Mrs. Bush’ on so many documents. But whatever the reason, if you know Mrs. (Her Full Name) was the preference of a former First Lady – you could use it. But – Mrs. (Husband’s Full Name) or Mrs. (Surname) – are the forms that are traditionally correct.

—-Note #B: Addressing Hillary Clinton in writing is a different. She is entitled to:
—-The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
—-… in her own right since she was elected to office in a general election, served as Secretary of State – and is thus an exception among First Ladies.

– Robert Hickey   How to Address the First Lady of a USA

How to Greet a Foreign First Lady?

I am meeting the wife of the President of Mexico next week.  What is the correct form of address?
————– Vishnu

Dear Vishnu:

I will assume since you are writing to me you will be speaking to her in English. If so, unless you know she prefers Dr. – address her as: Mrs. (Surname).

Take note that she may not use the same surname as her husband. In the US, Canada, and Northern Europe women frequently use the same surname as their husband. But, in the rest of the world – don’t assume they will.

I extended conversation switch to:Ma’am

The spouse of a foreign head-of-state is granted many of the courtesies due to her spouse, but she is not an official herself. Being a First Lady, spouse of a head-of-state, does not typically come with a special form of address.  I can think of a couple of exceptions, but Mexico isn’t one of them.

– Robert Hickey

first lady

Is a Girlfriend Addressed as ‘First Lady’?

I have a question about the title of the Governor of our state’s girlfriend. Is she the First Lady if they aren’t married? If she isn’t the First Lady, how would she be addressed on an invitation?
—-—-—-– PR

Dear PR,

Spouses, partners, girlfriends (cousins, children, and neighbors, etc.) of officials do not receive any forms of address based on their spouse’s/ partner’s/ boyfriend’s office. They’ll get preferential seating as a courtesy to the official … e.g., when they are with the official -or- representing the official.

Interestingly the First Lady of the United States is not even on The White House’s Precedence List … since she has no official precedence based on being the ‘First Lady’: She is not an official – she was not elected.   And while the wife of a President is described as The First Lady … there is no official form of address for this un-elected role. She is correctly addressed as ‘Mrs. (Surname)’. Yes, you hear newscasters saying ‘First Lady (Her Name)’ … but that’s not a form of address … its’ a newscaster using a shorthand to refer to her in the third person.

So back to the girlfriend – If you were to address an invitation’s envelope to them, here’s how it should look. You don’t need to mention his office on a social envelope:
—-—-The Governor of (Name of State)
—-—-and Ms. (Her Full Name)
—-—-(Address)
—-—-—-or
—-—-The Honorable (Full Name of the Governor)
—-—-and Ms. (Her Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

– Robert Hickey

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

What is the DV Code of the First Lady?

Do you know if the First Lady carries a Distinguished Visitor Code?  I Googled this information and was directed to your book ‘Honor & Respect.’.
– Steven @ The Pentagon

Dear Steven:

The First Lady [spouse of the President of the United States: POTUS] does not have a DV Code. She does not appear on any official US precedence list.
However, she is accorded some of the courtesies due her elected-official spouse … especially when she attending as a representative of the President.

She even receives certain courtesies (like preferential seating) when among officeholders who are on the precedence list. Thus, while she does not have a DV Code …. she always gets very good seat!

This is the way it’s worded: Spouses of the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, Governors in their own state and Mayors in their own cities are afforded the same rank and courtesy that accompanies their spouses’ positions at official functions. Spouses of other federal, state or municipal government officials are accorded the same rank as the Principal at official functions when they are attending together, and they are seated accordingly. This seating courtesy is the only ranking a spouse without title receives in the United States, unless the spouse himself or herself holds a separate position on the Order of Precedence.

Other offices – such as that of a governor, mayor of a city or president of a university – treat spouses following the same logic.

– Robert Hickey How to Address the First Lady of a USA

How to Address the First Lady of a USA

How to Refer to a Former President and First Lady in Text?

What is the correct way to phrase the following message:
[Company X ] commends the leadership, dedication, and commitment of former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush in their efforts to provide hope for cancer patients in their fight against cancer.
————– Nelson Jacques

Dear Mr. Jacques:

Formally I suggest:
‘[Company X] commends the leadership, dedication, and commitment of the Honorable George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush in their efforts …’

—-#1) I suggest you not use the word ‘former’. If you feel it is necessary to define his prior service, it’s better to include he was the 43rd President or he served as president from 2001 to 2009. ‘Former’ sounds so ‘has been’.

—-#2) It’s not necessary to identify that she was the First Lady when his name is there.

—-#3) Mrs. Bush liked to be referred to by her first and last name ‘Laura Bush.’ (Probably to be specific that the First Lady ‘Mrs. Bush’ was ‘Laura Bush’ and not ‘Barbara Bush’.)

Thus, I would also consider:
[Company X] commends the leadership, dedication, and commitment of the Honorable George W. Bush and Laura Bush in their efforts …

– Robert Hickey How to Address the First Lady of a USA

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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