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. HH

    She would have looked way better than that at 50

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

    What is the big deal? There just 2 britts.not inportant in USA. Can anyone see russia from their?

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

      Awsome comment you do got thair nowmy.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Get an education, please

      June 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Speakinghonest

    Bunch of whiny liberal obamacon babies

    June 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • You know

      Troll......

      June 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • canucken

      Exactly how do you make this political? You're like my 80 year old father in law who thinks the same way, that everything you do, from the cereal you buy to the car you drive is based on Conservative or Liberal values. How about this is just a ridiculous thing that Newsweek did and it is kind of morbid? Go back under your rock, people like you bring everyone down.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Partisan internet troll.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tonyb

    Newsweek has now become a tabloid... what poor taste and drivel.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • You know

      Totally agree. HORRIBLE reporting.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. forwardbias

    I understand that your majesty was beheading all the queens sleeping around few centries ago, but the same thing happening today with the help of the french disgusts me for the sh** eating mentality of the brits. Wonder when would newsweek or any courageous newspaper report that..

    June 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thicko

      Forwardbias, please stay in your trailer and limit your comments to the sweet nothings you whisper in your sisters ear.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cathy

    This is in horrible taste. I saw this magazine in a doctor's office yesterday and couldn't bring myself to read it. The premise is ridiculous. Newsweek has fallen to an all time low trying to sell magazines. The editor should be fired for such gross misjudgement. They owe a very public apology for this.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Lori

    I don't think it is in poor taste but I think it is odd. I do think most of what they say about how Diana's life would have turned out is probably true, but I don't think she would have re-married twice already and I can't really see her living full time in NYC. I think if they'd just done the story without the photos, no one would have really cared.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amanda

    I was really not into this. This seemed like a sensationalistic stunt to grab people's eyes on the newsstand or – more likely – on the Internet. I have not been pleased with the journalism that Newsweek is churning out since the DailyBeast took over. It's more sensational, too many small snippets, and not enough in-depth stories that feel well researched and pertinent. I can get that stuff on the Internet! I want good solid reads in my newsweekly.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. my opinion

    I'm interested in reading this article. The picture on the cover may be in poor taste, but I'm sure the author was respectful of Di in the article. Many of us wonder, what would her life be like now? It's a shame she wasn't alive for the beautiful wedding. I actually like the Facebook page imagining- I agree she would have liked Bridget Jones! And she'd be friends with Posh and Becks. This is only an article, people need to lighten up, IMO.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Suzy

    The only advanatge of dying at 36 is that you'll never be old. Let the poor woman rest in peace and be remembered as she was.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HereWeGoAgain

    i cant respect a white woman who would hook up with an arab

    June 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. my opinion

    Oh, but I disagree about 2 marriages and living in NY. Her and Dodi would probaly still be together, IMO.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NicNic

    We have put Dean, Monroe, Bogey and other stars out there posed in strange places. This was a way for the magazine to honor Diana.... what would Diana be like right now? I, too, have both imagined and wished for that too. This is not sensationalism unless we make it such. I applaud Tina Brown's decision. I LOVED the picture!

    June 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JD

    The editor is new and it's obvious they hired the wrong person. She should be fired over showing such disrespect for Diana's family.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    I was getting Newsweek for free, and still found it to be so politically slanted that I called to cancel it because I didn't want it in my home. Unfortunately, the cancellation didn't get processed before this issue arrived in my mailbox.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
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