Melania Trump under fire for decorations of JFK after ‘mutilating’ Jackie’s Rose Garden

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JFK’s portrait hangs outside the Red Room of the White House, but this year the image is also on Christmas tree decorations in the Vermeil Room (AP)
JFK’s portrait hangs outside the Red Room of the White House, but this year the image is also on Christmas tree decorations in the Vermeil Room (AP)

When first lady Melania Trump revealed the Christmas decorations for her last holiday season in the White House, one aspect that stood out was a room dedicated to the Kennedys.

The Vermeil Room on the ground floor of the executive mansion features a collection of 1,600 display pieces of silver-gilt tableware, and this year holiday decorations were themed on president John F Kennedy and first lady Jackie.

Ms Kennedy’s portrait hangs in the room along with those of other first ladies.

According to a release from the Office of the First Lady: “To preserve the White House for the American people, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy established the ‘People’s House’ as a living museum and laid the foundation for expanding the diversity of the collection. Sharing in this love for arts and culture, President John F Kennedy’s official portrait is featured on the graceful trees.”

There was surprise from some that a Democratic president should be celebrated this way by a Republican first lady in the annual Christmas decorations.

However, Ms Trump had said in the past that she saw Jackie Kennedy as a personal inspiration.

Watch: Melania Trump lights up the national Christmas tree at the White House

Ms Kennedy also famously began a complete restoration of the White House becoming intrinsically linked with its decor and the tradition of inviting the public in for televised tours — as is now the Christmas tradition when the decorations are installed.

Others were less than happy at Ms Trump’s tribute to the Kennedys in light of how she oversaw a renovation of the famed Rose Garden earlier in the year.

During Ms Kennedy’s time as the first lady, the garden saw a major renovation in the French formal style using American botanical specimens and ornamental trees.

It remained largely the same until the summer 2020 renovation overseen by Ms Trump which caused a double-backlash against the first lady.

First at the extravagance and cost in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and recession; and second at the removal of the ornamental trees and a change to the planting of the flower beds, which some saw as an insult to the Kennedys.

Ms Trump’s invocation of JFK in her Christmas display reignited those criticisms.

Twitter users did not hold back. One posted: “KENNEDY? YOU ripped out his wife's ROSES from the garden and destroyed history.”

Another echoed: “President Kennedy? You mean the husband of the incredible first lady whose Rose Garden you absolutely mutilated?”

Others decried the lack of a program of cultural events at the White House during the Trump administration, something introduced wholeheartedly promoted by Jackie Kennedy.

“Remember when there was art and culture at the White House? When there were concerts, and poetry readings, and ballet? You stopped all that,” wrote Helen Kennedy.

Ms Trump’s intentions may have been good, but to many, they will never be good enough.

Watch: Trump White House unveils final holiday decorations

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