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. RON

    It's all about selling magazines. That is what Newsweek does for a living . It's nothing else.

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

    Tacky. Very tacky.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. popup40

    The picture is certainly in poor taste, though I would not go as far as calling it revolting. As for the story, I guess Newsweek now needs "fluff" pieces to fill their magazine?

    June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    @Rachel M:

    Perfect.
    Best comment award to you, ma'am!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sharon

    that is just disturbing to me, why dont reporters or anyone just let the dead rest in peace. they should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to the royal family shame on you

    June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobbie

    I dont have a problem with them doing it just dont think she would have looked that old.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SoulTrain1943

    I LOVE IT!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Klaus

    Newsweek was a really good magazine, I was always looking forward to the next issue. But now, with Ms. Brown it has totally changed. I don't care about princesses or celebrities, I rather like to get important and interesting background information about political or cultural issues.
    Indeed, Brown is "Newsweek's grave robber". No more interesting articles, no more solid in depth analysis. The Newsweek that I loved is "dead", leaving a miserable, tabloid-style magazine behind. What a pity!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. shirley

    this is disgusting. If I were William and Harry I would be suing the pants off of this magazine for doing this. Diana needs to rest. Her life needs to be respected in a way and to be remembered as her children would have wanted it to be. I think she would still be a glamorous lady and still have crowds following her. She and Kate would be friends and they would have a wonderful relationship.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Linden Pike

    I like it!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. josie

    She did not love the limelight. In fact, she was fleeing from it when she was killed.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ScepticOptic

    I thought the morality of mankind can't be lower. I was wrong.
    My proposal for next time they should post a digitaly remastered photo about the Holy Innocents that Herodes slaughtered.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Artsy

    I'd been a reader of Newsweek for many years until they changed the format a couple(?) of years ago to be mainly an opinion magazine rather than a magazine reporting national and international news. I appear to have been right in my decision given this tacky turn.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Digital

    June 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pedro

    I think it es imaginative and clever. A good story.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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