WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: U.S. President-elect
Melissa Cohen (in red) with her father-in-law, US President Joe Biden, at his inauguration on Wednesday in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
  • The new US president's South African daughter-in-law, Melissa Cohen, had a prominent place at his inauguration ceremony.
  • Photos show her sitting right behind Joe Biden at the US Capitol on Wednesday.
  • Cohen married Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in 2019 – only a week after meeting him. 
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

The new US president has a South African daughter-in-law, and she had a prominent place at his inauguration on Wednesday.

Melissa Cohen, who hails from Johannesburg, sat behind Joe Biden during the ceremony at the US Capitol in Washington.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Dr. Jill Biden reacts
Melissa Cohen (in red) behind her father-in-law, US president Joe Biden, after he was sworn in during his inauguration on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cohen became a member of the Biden family after marrying the incoming president's son Hunter in 2019 – within a week of meeting him. They have an infant son, Beau, named after the president's other son and Hunter's brother, who died from cancer in 2015.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Ashley Biden carries
US president Joe Biden's daughter Ashley Biden carries her nephew, the son of her half brother Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen, during the inauguration ceremony in Washington DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

READ | Meet Joe Biden's South African daughter-in-law

Melissa Cohen (in black) on Tuesday this week with Hunter Biden, and their infant son Beau in New Castle, Delaware. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Cohen was brought up in Johannesburg, where her mom, Zoe, is a social worker who specialises in adoption. She has three brothers, one of whom is a podiatrist in Sandton

According to the SA Jewish Report, Cohen matriculated from King David High School Victory Park, and started studying at the University of Johannesburg before moving to the Greenside Design Center College of Design, where she received a qualification in interior design.

READ | The full text of US President Joe Biden's inaugural address

She moved to the US when she turned 21, reportedly to do a course in horticulture in Los Angeles, where she met local entrepreneur Jason Landver.

They married in a ceremony at Stellenbosch in 2012, but divorced within two years.

It is not clear how she met Biden, but he told the New Yorker that within a few days after their first date in 2019, he had the word “shalom” tattooed in Hebrew letters on the inside of his left bicep, to match a tattoo that Cohen has in the same spot. 

Last year, Joe Biden's wife Jill shared this family photo, which included her new daughter-in-law Melissa Cohen Biden (in blue, second to left.) Photo: Jill Biden/Twitter

Hunter Biden’s history of drug abuse and business dealings have provided his father’s opponents with fodder during last year's harsh election campaign, and the tabloids have been following his relationship with Cohen closely.  

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