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. Bermille

    This is a silly controversy, there have been tons of pictures comparing starlets to long dead movie stars etc before. I don't see the difference.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. C Gregg

    Actually I bet Diana is getting a kick out of this.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Liz

    If that was my mother I would sue!! How tacky and horrible to do a cover like that I feel its mocking ..... Gosh I hope the royals do something about this people need to respect especially the dead. Diana was a great human being and to do a cover like this is insulting to her and Lady Catherine..!!! I will never buy this mag.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Damien

    Brown should work for Redbook, not Newsweak (formerly Newsweek).

    June 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. FiDo

    heads facing toward each other... erm...no? only one head facing toward the other.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul Willson

    This is past tasteless. The Newsweek editor should be fired then deported from USA to UK where maybe she can be charged. Or better mass law suits with judgements going to HRH's favorite charity. This is even more disgusting as her son Prinbce William ^ hia wife are about to arrive in Canada and then a visit to USA . Newsweek had better make some form of apolgy to the Royal family stating with HM the Queen and through top the Ppribce of Wales then to Princes William & Harry.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bachmanntwit

    Ghouls eat brains. Michelle Bachmann has nothing to worry about.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Justin Observation

    Very creative and very lucrative for the paper I imagine. Are people freaked out because they think it's a legitimate picture of ghost or they dug up her body? It's photoshopped people, almost every picture you see in the news is photoshopped. Relax.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RW

    "Ghoulish" is way too kind. It's absolutely tasteless and crass. What would William and Harry think if they saw this?

    June 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ginny Wurthmann

    My copy of Newsweek arrived yesterday; and I must say that I was somewhat taken aback by the cover. I haven't read the story yet, but I'll probably find it a little ridiculous - but hopefully not offensive. The fascination with Diana is alive and well.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CJ

    Creepy...media tries way too hard to outdo each other nowadays.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Carly

    This would be appalling and utterly disrespectful even for a tacky tabloid, but for Newsweek it is inexcusable. Brown and Newsweek should issue an abject apology and Brown should be fired. At best this is creative writing, but definitely should not have been given a magazine like Newsweek as a forum.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jon

    All this nonsense aside, every time I see images of Diana and then see what her children look like, I come to the conclusion that she must have been sleeping around. How can they be the progeny of Prince Charles?

    June 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Max

    Yeah, let's make a mountain out of this non-issue!

    June 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Julie

    I just wonder how much hurt this caused her sons. Things they would have wished for but never will have.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
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