By SYLVIA HUI
LONDON (AP) — U.S. first lady Melania Trump mingled with British veterans and schoolchildren — and had a go at a game of lawn bowls — as she made a solo outing to a historic London retirement home for former soldiers Friday.
As her husband met with British Prime Minister Theresa May for talks, Mrs. Trump visited Royal Hospital Chelsea, an imposing building founded over 300 years ago by King Charles II which today houses hundreds of British veterans.
The first lady, who wore a sleeveless multi-colored Victoria Beckham dress with nude spiky heels, was hosted by the British leader’s husband, Philip May.
The pair toured the hospital’s chapel before joining a small group of elementary schoolchildren and veterans in making red paper poppies, a symbol for remembering and honoring those fallen in war.
Mrs. Trump, 48, greeted the children with a cheery “Hello!” and a big smile. She shook their hands, and asked one of the kids to show her how to assemble a poppy pin.
She then sat down with three veterans and 10 children for a short group discussion, as part of the first lady’s “Be Best” campaign, rolled out in May, which focuses on teaching kindness to children and childhood well-being.
Mrs. Trump did not make prepared speeches or remarks to reporters. Officials kept the event carefully controlled, and ushered reporters out of the room when she was in discussion with the children.
The first lady ended her visit with a game of bowls with May, schoolchildren and veterans. She gamely bowled several times on the bowling green, to loud cheers from children waving British and U.S. flags.
After one of her attempts, Mrs. Trump initiated a high five with one of the veterans — known as a Chelsea pensioner — after he gave her effort the thumbs up.
Mrs. Trump was to join President Donald Trump for tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle later Friday.
The Trumps’ European visit marked the Slovenian-born former model’s return to the international stage after she was hospitalized for a kidney condition in May and dropped out of public sight for nearly a month.