U.S. President Donald Trump, son Barron and First Lady Melania Trump walk to Air Force One as they prepare to visit tornado-devastated Alabama. Picture: Reuters/Mike Theiler

Alabama - A conspiracy theory that Melania Trump uses a body double for some public appearances has reared its head again after she visited Alabama with US President Donald Trump to meet those affected by a tornado that killed 23 people.

With Mrs Trump wearing an oversized pair of sunglasses that hid most of her face, critics suggested it was not the normally immaculately turned out 48-year-old – a former model from Slovenia – but a less-than- first-class stand-in.

Suspicions about a body double first surfaced in October 2017 when Mrs Trump, in large sunglasses and a trench coat, stood next to Mr Trump as he gave a speech on the White House lawn, and the President awkwardly referred to "my wife, Melania, who happens to be right here".

In the photographs from Friday’s Alabama visit, the First Lady looks downcast while standing next to the President, with unusual lighting conditions making it difficult to recognise her. On Twitter, one user wrote that the "recasting of Melania was the worst I’ve ever seen" and the hashtag "Fake Melania" became one of the most-used of the day.

It prompted others to join in, with one joking: "More than 70 years since Roswell, and the government still hasn’t perfected the use of the alien technology," while another added: "There’s no way that’s Melania. This woman is walking and waving without Melania’s signature stiffness. Fake Melania is real."

Mrs Trump did not immediately respond to the speculation but her spokesman has laughed it off in the past, while the White House previously called the idea "ridiculous".

As the First Couple were pictured arriving in Florida after the Alabama trip, one social media user wrote: "Melania would NEVER walk in front of Trump, and this version is much more comfortable and animated taking those stairs."

Daily Mail