scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Obama daughters attend their first state dinner

Malia Obama, daughter of President Obama, attended her first state dinner Thursday. The dinner was held in honor of Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau. Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

WASHINGTON — The children of world leaders — the ones who grow up in the constant glare of the spotlight their parents chose — constitute a special club.

A few members of that elite group convened a meeting during Thursday night’s White House state dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. First daughters Sasha Obama, 14, and Malia Obama, 17, attending their first such black-tie affair, received a special tribute from Trudeau, whose father was the prime minister from the time he was born until he was 8 years old.

Sasha Obama, daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama, attended her first State Dinner. Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

In his formal toast to the glittery crowd, Trudeau showed the rare understanding he has of their experience, which includes some perks (like the prime seat Sasha had for the dinner next to actress Blake Lively) and also plenty of downsides (we can only imagine that Malia was doing that special teenage mental eyeroll when her dad nearly got choked up while telling the crowd of dignitaries about her imminent departure for college).

‘‘The memories for me of being a kid and not being old enough to attend these kinds of events with my father almost makes me wish I had gone through my teenage years as the child of a world leader,’’ said Trudeau, 44. ‘‘Almost.’’


Sasha was seated at a table in the elegant East Room with her aunt, President Barack Obama’s sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her uncle, Konrad Ng. Malia, wearing a sophisticated strapless gown, sat next to ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy’’ actress Sandra Oh.

‘‘I admire you very much, both of you, for your extraordinary strength and your grace,’’ Trudeau continued. The Obama girls’ unconventional childhoods would, he said, give them ‘‘strength and wisdom beyond your years for the rest of your life.’’

Like, perhaps political futures of their own?

In his toast, Obama recalled that President Richard Nixon was toasted by then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau when Justin Trudeau was an infant. Obama quoted Nixon’s toast to the then-4-month-old: ‘‘'Tonight we dispense with the formalities, Nixon said, and propose a toast to the future prime minister of Canada, Justin Pierre Trudeau.’’


Forty-four years later, Obama noted, ‘‘the prediction has come to pass.’’

More photos from the event:

Ryan Reynolds and his wife, Blake Lively.RON SACHS/EPA/pool
Lorne Michaels, executive producer of “Saturday Night Live.” RON SACHS/EPA/pool
Sandra Oh and Lev Rukhin.RON SACHS/EPA/pool
Mike Myers and his wife, Kelly Myers.RON SACHS/EPA/pool
Grant Hill and his wife, Tamia.Andrew Harnik/AP
Michael J. Fox.CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images
Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and his wife, Marcelle Leahy.RON SACHS/EPA/pool
Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hug as the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau made a toast.Joshua Roberts/REUTERS
Sara Bareilles performed her song, "Brave," with the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir.Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Obama, flanked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, spoke.Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Associated Press writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.