07/11/2017 5:13 AM AEDT | Updated 08/11/2017 7:44 AM AEDT

Etiquette Experts Weigh In On Trump And Melania's Awkward Hand-Holding

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump’s hand-holding (or lack thereof) is under scrutiny again

The first lady posted a photo of her holding hands with the president on Instagram after the two visited Pearl Harbor on Friday. 

While some commenters thought their hand-holding was sweet, Jezebel pointed out that it somewhat looked like Donald was wrapping his hand around Melania’s closed fist

Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert who has been featured in the New York Times and appeared on the “Today Show,” said it did not appear that the two were holding hands. 

“The reason [I think this] is because you can clearly see Melania’s fingers and you don’t see any separation in her fingers ― like his [fingers] in between hers. It looks like what he did is clasped his hand over hers,” she said. 

“It does appear odd to me in this particular incident because they’re visiting this memorial here that is very moving in terms of the gravity of the lives that were lost during the Pearl Harbor attack,” Swann explained. “Normally, when you are connected to your mate, your spouse, your partner, you’d expect to see more of a connection between the two, because when you think about lives lost and then you have your life partner next to you, it does make you want to clasp that person a little tighter, hold them a little closer. For whatever reason, I don’t see that in this particular photo here.” 

She added, “It looks to me more like these are two people standing and posing for a photo opportunity. They’re obviously very cognizant of the fact that they’re being photographed.” 

But according to Jacqueline Whitmore, an international etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, the two are just simply holding hands. 

“On first glance, the president and first lady are holding hands. It’s not the traditional way, but they are still connecting by touching fingers,” she told HuffPost. 

But as Swann pointed out, people scrutinize the Trumps’ awkward body language because they’ve seen so much awkwardness before. 

“We’ve seen this a lot with this couple,” Swann said. “This is not anything new. We’ve seen instances where they just don’t seem that connected and I think this is just another example of their lack of affection — there’s not a lot of affection in this relationship.” 

In April, President Trump was criticized for walking extremely far ahead of his wife while deplaning Air Force One, especially compared to how past presidential couples deplaned together: 

And just one month later, two videos of Melania swatting or snubbing the president’s attempts to hold her hand went viral: 

By October, the two were holding hands, albeit a little awkwardly:  


It simply appears that these two switch up their hand-holding techniques depending on the day:  

Pool via Getty Images
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump return to the White House on May 27 in Washington, DC. Trump is returning from his first overseas trip as president.
Carlos Barria / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump holds first lady Melania Trump's hand as they attend an event to award the 2017 National Teacher of the Year at the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. on April 26.
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and wife Melania hold hands after she delivered a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
TIZIANA FABI via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for a concert of La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26 in Sicily.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands as they arrive to board Air Force One for travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 23.