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. banasy

    @Denese:

    Are you really speculating what Diana may have looked like today, and critiquing and comparing it to an age-enhanced piece of fluff that Newsweek put out? Really?

    *Facepalm*

    June 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Judith Canaan

    This is the most horrible magazine cover and article I have ever seen. Newsweek has become ridiculous and a useless magazine which I will not read again.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ my troll:
    Anything on my wall is very far removed from a magazine cover.
    I think you know that, and that's one reason for your trying to upset me.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jose

    As a resistanxe leader we were afraid this would happen. Her body was buried on an island for a reason. It wa fortold she would rise from the dead in an attempt to consume human brains. The only way to be sure is to go to the island and exhume the casket. Make sure the eeviill one remains inside.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bachmanntwit

    We got rid of Palin. Now Bachmann must go.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    @FaFaFoHi:
    I already know what
    adipocere is. What I don't know is why you would even be curious as to whether it has occurred to Diana's body or not.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reporter

    I heard that while still alive immediately after the crash, Diane resembled the South Park episode's version of Britney Spears after she took a shotgun blast to the face. Has anyone seen that episode? Given the condition she was in, there was little reconstruction that could be done for a viewing, so the person in charge went to a local Spencer's Gifts store and purchased a latex "Princess Di" mask to put over the whole mess. He packed the void behind the mask with crumpled up newspaper, ironically including the front page of the London Times which reported the crash only days before.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Josh

    The BIG question is if Diana would have been allowed to attend the wedding, or would she have instead spent the day with her best friend, Fergie?

    June 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • M

      Please. She would have been front and center. Her brother went, didn't he? Besides, other than the palace's displeasure with Fergie, apparently Princess Diana and Fergie had some sort of big fall out right before she passed. That's why Wills didn't insist on her being there.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Oh, I had wondered why Will didn't insist that Aunt Fergi get invited. Thanks.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Josh

    The photo doesn't bother me since the headline over it, explains the pic's purpose rather well.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark Wells

    I'm American, not British, and 'm not a devoted Royal watcher as I know so many people are. So my impression is probably very different than many people. With that said, the Newsweek article strikes me as sentimental and touching. It is the author imagining what could have been, what should have been. Certainly that must cross many people's minds, especially the Royal Couple.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andreas

      Thank you Mark, apparently not many people in here understand journalism. Sokmetimes you have to push the envelope and I don't see anything wrong with the photo's or article either. If someone doesn't like it, don't read it. I would say, a job well done and it created exactly what News Week wanted.......a debate and free advertising for them! Smart move!

      June 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. @Josh

    Please don't breed.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Why, because unlike you, I don't find any cover of Newsweek worth getting so upset over?

      June 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AlwaysTri

    I can only imagine what it must be like for her sons to see this picture. What a selfish decision on behalf of Newsweek to air this article.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Silly Me

      Magazine articles are printed. Radio and television broadcasts are aired. 🙂

      June 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Susan

    Pretty stinking tasteless if you ask me.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Morgana

    I don't get the problem. "ghoulish" is way over the top as an adjective describing this photo. Maybe a little in poor taste, but get over yourselves, you sound like a bunch of babies!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kathleen

    True Journalism is dead. There are enough news items to write about and research for in-depth reporting but all we get theys days is tabloid fluff.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
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