Despite being one of the most photographed women in the world, after nearly four years in the White House, Melania Trump remains a mystery. While the cool and icy exterior of the US First Lady, 50, has sparked claims she’s trapped in a sham marriage – and inspired the “Free Melania” movement – the woman who knows her best has claimed she is perfectly content in her life with Donald Trump. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff became the former model’s closest confidante after they met in 2003 when she worked at US Vogue as a PR manager. “She’s not unhappy. She’s complicit. She’s the same as her husband,” she revealed in an interview with 60 Minutes about her tell-all memoir, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff with Trump ‘s couple Melania and Donald / THE TRUTH ABOUT MY MARRIAGE/SHUTTERSTOCK – Book: “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff”.

At the time of their meeting, Melania Knauss had been dating the then-business mogul for around three years and was months away from announcing their engagement. What developed between the women was a 15-year friendship, which included monthly lunches and ski holidays. Wolkoff watched as her friend miraculously transformed from model to wife to First Lady – or as she writes in her book, “from gold plated to 24-carat”. Following Trump’s unlikely win in the 2016 presidential election, Wolkoff was right beside the “sister she never had”. Soon after Trump’s inauguration, Wolkoff was invited to take up a key role in the West Wing. Working as the First Lady’s aide, she handled press enquires, planned events, and helped craft Melania’s poised and polished persona in contrast to the president’s boisterous and blustering image. “Melania doesn’t want people to know who she is or what she is about. By keeping up that steel wall, she doesn’t have to answer to anyone,” Wolkoff tells. Despite the president’s numerous alleged infidelities and allegations of sexual misconduct, Wolkoff explains that their union isn’t a typical marriage. Rather, it’s closer to a business arrangement. “It’s a transactional marriage,” writes Wolkoff. “Everything is planned and strategic.” Wolkoff went to lunch with Melania after the infamous Access Hollywood tape was leaked in October 2016. The controversial recording showed the then-presidential candidate laughing about grabbing women without their consent. Filmed in September 2005, Melania had been married to Trump for less than a year and was pregnant with their son, Barron, at the time. Wolkoff expressed concern for her friend but Melania only brushed her off. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I know who I am married to,” was her response. Wolkoff admits that while the Trumps have an unconventional marriage, Melania “is happy” with her life of luxury and “has no expectations of Donald to be faithful”. The mum-of-one’s willingness to accept such an unorthodox life can be traced back to her childhood in communist Slovenia, where she could only dream of the privilege and wealth she has today. As another presidential election looms in the highly divided US, Wolkoff knows her former friend the pair allegedly fell out over scandals surrounding spending on Donald’s 2016 inauguration ceremony, which Wolkoff was hired to help organize is the ultimate survivor. “Don’t worry about Melania,” says Wolkoff. “She’ll be fine.”