Given the enduring fame of his family, Donald Trump Jr. is undoubtedly used to life in the spotlight. But while the businessman reached a new level of name recognition after his father became the U.S. president, Trump Jr.’s life has been subject to media attention for a while now. The press knew when he got married to wife Vanessa, for instance, as well as when each of their five children were born.
And given Trump Jr. and Vanessa’s celebrity, it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising that the couple made headlines yet again in March 2018. They had made a huge decision together, and it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world found out.
Trump Jr. and Vanessa had both met back in 2003, after the two had attended the same fashion show. And, as Vanessa would relate to The New York Times in 2006, it was Trump Jr.’s dad who had originally introduced the pair to each other.
Vanessa, whose last name was Haydon at the time, explained to the newspaper, “I’m at this fashion show. Donald Trump comes up to me with his son, [saying], ‘Hi, I’m Donald Trump. I wanted to introduce you to my son, Donald Trump Jr.’”
But while Vanessa talked with both men, she and her future husband didn’t instantly hit it off. Indeed, all three of them subsequently dispersed to mingle elsewhere. Later in the night, however, Trump Jr.’s dad approached her again – to once again introduce her to his son.
Vanessa recalled to The New York Times, “Donald comes back up to me again, ‘I don’t think you’ve met my son Donald Trump Jr.’” The former model responded to him, however, by saying, “Yeah, we just met, five minutes ago.” And yet again, she and Trump Jr. didn’t apparently click immediately.
In fact, the pair wouldn’t feel a spark until six weeks after their initial meeting. Then, they happened to see each other again at a birthday party, where they were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. Somehow, though, they didn’t recognize each other right away.
Instead, Vanessa and Trump Jr. spent about an hour deep in conversation before she realized who exactly she was talking to. And perhaps the change of venue made all the difference to the couple, as they subsequently went on to date.
What’s more, the pair went on to get married on November 12, 2005 – two years after their fateful second meeting. They said “I do” at the Trump family estate known as Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida; Trump Jr.’s paternal aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, was the officiant.
Then, after spending two years as a family of two, the Trumps began adding to their brood. First came eldest daughter, Kai Madison, in 2007. Their second child was a boy, however, and his moniker maintained family tradition: he was named Donald John Trump III.
Two more boys followed Donald III: Tristan Milos and Spencer Fredrick. Then, in the end, the Trumps welcomed their fifth and final baby – a daughter named Chloe Sophia. She completed the family in June of 2014, much to the delight of her older sister Kai, who had previously been the only female sibling.
And at the time of her youngest daughter’s birth, Vanessa did admit that her family life was boisterous. “It’s definitely a busy house! Five kids in seven years,” she told Us Weekly. But the family settled into their Manhattan life, often spending quieter weekends in the Catskill Mountains.
Amid raising their brood, the couple still managed to find time for each other, though. And in a 2017 interview with The New York Times, Trump Jr. would describe some of their romantic evenings in. Apparently, the two of them chose to cook meals and watch movies together – although Trump Jr. didn’t like some of his wife’s choices in films, such as Fifty Shades Darker.
But their home life would soon be overshadowed by what happened to their family in the public eye: Trump Jr.’s father became president in 2017. According to People, the transition to First Son was difficult for Trump Jr., even though he and his family lived in New York City instead of Washington, D.C.
Indeed, while speaking about Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric, a friend reportedly told the magazine, “They never wanted this.” Meanwhile, another person close to the family apparently told the publication, “Don [Jr.] can’t do any deals, because he’ll be overly scrutinized. He just goes to work every day and is miserable.”
It wasn’t just Trump Jr. affected by the public attention though: his wife had a scare of her own. In February 2018 she opened an envelope addressed to her husband and found a white powder inside. Fearing she had been poisoned, she subsequently went to the hospital. Later, though, the substance was found not to pose a risk.
And this stressful timeline may have led the Trumps to their final act: in March 2018 Vanessa filed for divorce from Donald Jr. Together, they issued a statement to the press regarding their decision to part ways after more than 12 years of marriage.
The statement read, “We have decided to go our separate ways. We will always have tremendous respect for each other and our families.” It continued, “We have five beautiful children together, and they remain our top priority. We ask for your privacy during this time.”
In the wake of the couple’s divorce filing, however, other potential reasons for the split circulated. For one, there was hearsay that Trump Jr. had engaged in an extramarital affair with Aubrey O’Day, a singer and contestant on his father’s reality show, The Celebrity Apprentice. Others claimed, however, that Vanessa had been unhappy for a while; she had allegedly been feeling financially strapped by her husband, who held the purse strings.
But Vanessa’s spokesperson hit back at the latter rumor, saying, “These claims are simply not true. Don and Vanessa have tremendous respect for each other and always have.” And they’ve since proven their dedication to their family in the wake of their divorce filing, spending Easter together with their children in 2018.