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. 66Biker

    Oh, please... Can we find some real news? Somewhere? Anywhere?

    June 30, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Erika

    I am 60 and don't have a wrinkled neck like that.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. kateykelley

    "Their heads facing toward each other as if they are walking together" they don't appear to be looking at eachother at all?!?! In fact I thought this was a narrative of the new princess showing respect to Lady Di. I don't think the photo is in bad taste at all. People are way over reacting!

    June 30, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sonya

    The picture is ugly. They took an older persons neck and put it on a young body. Diana would not have arms that muscular and that wrinkled up neck is all wrong. The dress is very ugly. If Diana were alive today, I'm certain that she would look much more attractive than this picture depicts. Ms. Brown has it all wrong.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Just bizarre!!!!!!!!!

    June 30, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      I have to agree. Were Diana to have been there, she would have been FACING her daughter in law. if IF she didn't like her.
      She was just that way, correct to protocol.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. michael taylor

    i don't understand what is so wrong with the picture it is kinda freaky knowing shes been deceased for so long but to down the person who created it is stupid the only people who have the right to down this lady is diana's children which i don't think they would have a problem if she were here she would probably hang out with kate thats her daughter-inlaw c'mon cry babies grow up are you a bunch of losers so miserable you try and down other people to make yourselfs feel better if so please don't ever post again you d-bags us adults don't like d-baggery

    June 30, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
    • michael taylor

      thanks wzrd 1 atleast you understand my post

      June 30, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Tia

      Perhaps before telling other to stop being cry babies and grow up, you should try doing so yourself. Only immature widdle babies call others d-bags while acting like one because "waah, you don't like something that I like, waaaaah!"

      June 30, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Wzrd1

    What I CANNOT figure out is, WHY the US populace is SO fascinated with the UK royalty.
    I can understand the commonwealth nations, but not the US.
    Or was the American revolution only a minor spat and we'll discard our system of government for a sovereign?

    June 30, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kat

    Yeah.... It's a little weird.

    The only issue I really have with it is the computer generated aging. The opinion/fiction article seems fine, but they should have had a normal depiction of Princess Di on the cover. It could have been all hazy or something rather dream-like. That would have been cool. This is just weird. It is kind of interesting to think about how things would be if she were still around, but this was sure a bizarre way of doing it! I'm sort of surprised it got through editing at Newsweek.

    Unless of course it was a publicity stunt. Magazine sales aren't what they used to be.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. N

    I think that the photo is okay, but the article accompanying it is pretty horrendous.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ardath

    Good to know... guess what magazine I won't be buying again. Newsweek can just go ahead and change its name to BSWeek now.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  11. erica

    i agree...i just got my copy in the mail yesterday and i thought it was pretty creepy, and the article was pretty much a waste of time. what, no real news to report on? i was disappointed and i have been a fan of newsweek for about 15 years. the article was fluff and pure speculation, and besides, who cares? she's not here, can't be, and what could have been cannot be said. in poor taste.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. JT Quenlin

    Really, NEWSweek. Nothing going on here in the land of the living worth putting on the cover? No one risking death in a protest to have a taste of the freedom you take for granted? No country on the verge of default threatening to send more shockwaves through the global economy. Nothing that might be even marginally relevant to our lives?

    June 30, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. Get Real America

    Leave this dumb Newsweek cover alone and start worrying about our economy and the future of our country...this fluff is just so trivial.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. M.P.

    The reason the article is ridiculous is because it's very superficial. It doesn't treat Diana as a human being, but instead, as a mere object of our attention. It suggests that there's a formula that every human being follows and that's someone's destiny can be predicted. Diana's family has done an amazing job of allowing her to rest in peace. It's a shame the rest of the world can't offer the same respect.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. joyce

    thats a 70 year old woman, not a 50 year old diana. she wouldn't have looked that old at 50! i guess we're all just so used to seeing her radiant beauty and all. her image will never grow old. that is why it is so rather creepy to see her "age". i think the world miss her and it is an interesting concept to speculate how things would have turned out had she been alive. she's very forward thinking therefore it is likely that she'll be tweeting and posting on facebook. i was actually wondering had she been alive, where would she have sat at William and Kate's wedding? will camilla be present?

    June 30, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
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