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. atasteforscarlet

    This is appalling. I thought Newsweek had some semblance of being a news magazine. This stupid picture and the even more ridiculous "What if" article by Tina Brown are pathetic. She pretends to be a friend or acquanitance and guesses she would have been married twice by now.

    Yuck.

    Hello Time, inn need of subscribers?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    Why does the world make such a big deal over her? She was an ambitious little girl who wormed her way into the royal family. Left her husband. Gloryhounded herself into the world's hypnotised, drooling appreciation. Then died. Why do we hear any about her?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • PAZYFE

      geez relax it is not that serious

      June 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dobro

    Sick.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaynicia

      Wow...that IS creepy and sick, isn't it?

      June 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. farquar

    Print subscription is CANCELLED. This issue broke the last straw.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Heather

    It didnt bother me at all. I think the picture makes ppl think (and talk obviously) about the woman she was and would have been.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MNM

    I didn't think it was completely awful...until I actually read the article. Yeah...not okay.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Princess of Kent

    She is no acquaintance of the (Mountbatten) Windsor family except by fantasy. I susoect she hails from the unfortunate bowels of the East End but aspires to proving asomething different.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tom in the Great NW

    Now, can Newsweek do a piece showing Sarah Palin at 80 – still hinting at her presidential prospects?

    June 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    Newsweek will be hearing from us tonight: Cancel our subsrciption!!!...Did I say Newsweek? should that now be People Magazine 2. Time Traveller? Garbage – Leave that for Star Trek.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MADDOG

    NEWSWEEk nees to FIRE Tina Brown before she puts them OUt Of BUSINESS. God is she stupid!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bruce W

    Obviously, there are several people commenting with a lack of intelligence just like the editor of Newsweek. Comments
    about your bathroom BM should be kept to yourself. If you do not like or appreciate the comments of others... I would
    like to suggest you find something better to do with your time!!

    June 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. hdrkid

    I like the story of the time traveller princess. Princess Die, is an interesting name.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Neko M

    I totally get what they were trying to do, but man...they HAD to know that it was a terrible idea that would cause all sorts of controversy. They had to.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Clarke

    Ironically this will probably sell more magazines...on a more scary note it makes me think how many images are photo shopped in the news to convey a controlled calculated message to the public. Manipulation is everywhere.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bobbi

    I like it! Gives us somethings to think about.

    June 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neko M

      "Gives us somethings to think about."

      Out of curiosity, what, precisely, does it give us to think about?

      June 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
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