June 29th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

Diana and Kate Newsweek cover blasted as 'ghoulish' and in 'bad taste'

Newsweek and its new editor Tina Brown aren't just reporting the news, they've become the story this week after publishing a computer-generated cover photo showing Princess Diana and Kate Middleton side by side.

The women are dressed similarly, wearing hats, their heads facing toward each other as if they are walking together. The cover accompanies a fictional piece Brown authored which imagines how Di's life might have turned out had she not died in a 1997 car crash in Paris. Another couple of photos inside in the magazine are eye-catching. They are of Diana and the daughter-in-law she never knew wearing similar red dresses.

The issue is pegged to what would have been Diana's 50th birthday on Friday.

Here's a sampling of Brown's take on Diana in 2011: "Gliding sleekly into her 40s, her romantic taste would have moved to men of power over boys of play."

Diana would have had a Facebook page with millions of followers and named "Bridget Jones' Diary" as one of her favorite movies. She would have lived in a New York City loft and been married at least twice to men on both sides of the Atlantic. She would have enjoyed front-row seating next to Victoria Beckham during New York's Fashion Week, owned an iPhone and  been totally devoted to philanthropic causes when not doting on sons Harry and William.

Many have found the digital manipulation of Diana and Brown's imagining of the princess' future revolting.

The London Telegraph called the cover photo "ghoulish" and dubbed Brown "Newsweek's grave robber."  The newspaper supposes Newsweek's motivation was to sell magazines. E! Online wrote a story titled "Bad taste alert!"  Jezebel, which reports on issues related to women, penned a reaction under the headline "Undead Princess Strolls with Kate Middletown on Ridiculous Newsweek Cover."  Mediaite's Lizzie Manning said she didn't take issue with Brown's creative prose. It was the photos that creeped Manning out , more than Brown's writing. Popular blog Cafemom criticized Brown in an open letter to her, addressing Brown as Bonnie Fuller, the American magazine editor famous for print tabloid entertainment.

"You took a woman who has been dead for 14 years and made up an entire story about what she would look like, where she would be living (the Big Apple of course!), what she would be doing (apparently lots of Botox!), and perhaps most importantly, what she would be wearing (Galliano - the anti-Semite - and J.Crew a la Michelle Obama!) ... if she were still alive today," Cafemom wrote. "This is pure brilliance. I've never understood why a magazine called Newsweek would waste its time having reporters write about current events or world affairs when it could simply make up stuff."

The British Brown, new to the helm at the news magazine, formerly edited the New Yorker and founded the Daily Beast. She is well-known for her observations about British politics and culture, as well as American culture.

Wednesday morning, Brown explained why she wrote the story the way she did.

"I wanted to make her a time traveler," she said, adding that she viewed Diana as a "global, mover shaker kind of woman."

"She loved the limelight but she would have professionalized all that humanitarian giving," Brown said. "She would have been very much a woman of our time."

The Newsweek package isn't without straight reporting. The magazine highlights causes Diana championed by tracking how much good they've done after her death.

And the magazine isn't the only media outlet pondering what Diana would have been like at 50. The U.K.'s Daily Express newspaper also published a digitally aged image of Diana's face. It also is not the first magazine to attempt a fictionalized story about a famous and beloved life cut short. In April 2008, Esquire magazine imagined, in narrative form, what actor Heath Ledger's last few days alive might have been like. Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose that year. The magazine's editor at the time insisted the piece was neither stunt nor gimmick.

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soundoff (653 Responses)
  1. Unknown

    That was a stupid idea. It's like having a movie taking place New York with Twin Towers in the background.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      what would be wrong with that? They needed replacing anyway...they were ugly and so 1960ish

      June 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pinky in NV

    This cover with Princess Di at 50 is in extremely poor taste. What was the editor thinking? How offensive to her children and Princess Kate to publish something like this. We can honor Princess Di's memory and legacy, but lets not dig her up and speculate what she would look like now. Good Grief!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy Wilmore

      Tina Brown ruined the best magazine in the United States, The New Yorker, (it still hasn't recovered) and now is planning I suppose on ruining the best news magazine.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rissadr

    its not that big of a deal people come on. i really dont see what the fuss is all about, it didnt bother me and i think it was nice really. why people think her kids would be upset about it? the picture could have been a lil nicer but thats about it. oh people just likes to complain about everything, to much other things are going on around the world

    June 29, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRH

      Imagine you're 10. Imagine your mother dies in a car accident.

      Imagine when you're 30 an internationally distributed magazine projects what she'd look like if she had never died and digitally puts an image of that picture in a scene with someone else you love who never got to meet her in life.

      I'd be hurt. In fact, it would be really really sad. And what right does a magazine have to hurt me in that way? Just to sell some cruddy copies in a dying paper medium?

      Losers. I'll never buy another copy.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Justin Bieber's Colon

    I got it yesterday and got creeped out so bad I had to take a dump.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Janet

    Definite thumbs down to Newsweek on its choice of coverage - it could have been a sensitive article and still sold magazines.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ernestina shay

    Why does anyone buy Newsweek??
    Brown has no family, I suppose...
    and has never had to bury a loved one...
    hope circulation finally tanks this rag into oblivion.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      I loved it.....dead is dead. They dont care.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      But the family and close friends care. They are the only important ones in this matter.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Carol

    Hello? Your magazine's name is NEWSweek. You are working hard to lose credibility and become just another of the Us and People ilk. Stupid move.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. frank

    stupid choice of cover story/story at all

    June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    Why does anyone care about this family?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joel

    i thought it was cool – they should do some more undead stories

    June 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      What would marilyn monroes coothie be doing right now? This months time magazine story

      June 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Larry Dickman

    If you've made a decision to cash in on a dead person, you've made a bad decision.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      Ur name sounds gay.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      Speakinghonest doesn't know the meaning of her name. She should really be called SpeakingStupid.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. edwarda

    How sick is that. Robbing the grave of Diana for a circulation hit. Wow, a whole new low in journalism. How about photoshopping Queen Elizabeth I, or Cleopatra for that matter. Sick, sick, sick

    June 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Suzy

    The photos and article are in horrible taste. I couldn't help but wonder what William and Harry thought. How much more pain are they supposed to take? And once again the media is abusing the memory of Diana. Let her rest in peace.
    As for my husband's opinion, he said the issue was a comic book and he wants to stop our subscription.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. KBinMN

    Ms. Brown should go back to Tatler magazine where she started. If nothing else Vanity Fair.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed Sr

    Not ghoulish but definitely inappropriate..........she was comparing Diana to Kate which was in bad taste though because of the difference in the two women..........Kate is young and more attractive than Diana ever was and Diana was more sedate than Kate ever will be...........really a bad format for a photo...........both women of course are lovely and carry themselves with dignity but to compare Kate to her deceased mother in law not good...........I am sure the husband of Kate was taken back by this as was his father. The woman who did this photo should be dressed down appropriately for her desecration of these two very lovely ladies.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
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