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. Chris

    Who cares?

    June 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andre

    I would be mortified if I were her son, William! This is not the kind of stuff that can even be remotely described as respectful or kind.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Some things aren't disrespectful or respectful....this appears to be one.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Josh

    Newsweek aged Diana's face, but didn't add a single pound (kg?) to her waist. Would that really be true?

    June 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Julie

    Seriously??? A disgrace?? The only disgrace was the way the Royal family treated her. She was timid, shy, and very unsure of herself in the beginning. They took full advantage of her. I hope Kate turns out JUST like her, but with a loving and supportive husband and family instead of a bunch of critics constantly tearing her down. She could have done so much more for the world if only they hadn't crushed her spirit.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      From what I read, William has already "laid down the law" with the Royal family and the Palace staff. Unlike his father, William made it very clear he will not tolerate any disrespect of Kate.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kathy60

    Why do people insist on over reacting? It is a 'What If" piece for heavens sake and I see nothing wrong with a bit of whimsy in an otherwise run of the mill news magazine. Diana doted on her sons and I think she would have loved Kate as a daughter-in-law and quite possibly found her to be a friend as well. There have been plenty of magazines that aged famous people, even before they were aged or dead, like Jackie Kennedy, which I think is a lot more tacky than aging a person after they have died.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve

    Yes because of all the humanitarian work she did all over the world and the fact that she was being cheated on made her a discrace to the royals....and you. Your an idiot.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      "Your an idiot!"
      That would make a great t-shirt!

      June 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rsp

    Kate Middleton must be either a saint or a sado masochist: She has stuck it out for years until she finally got a proposal of marriage and then she gets a dead woman's ring for an engagement ring(yes... we know it has sentimental value but it's still creepy) and now she is distastefully placed on the cover of a magazine with Dianna// Dianna's myth has been blown all out of proportion// as I remember she was a whimpy thing who put her self in a bad situation//Kate has the grace, composure and strength Dianna never had// I do not see why she has to be constantly compared to Dianna//let's just be happy that England has at last found someone who will not embarass the monarchy and give it some class.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sherrie from Newfoundland

      very true...but Diana was agoo dowmen..she just married a creep..best thing from their marriage was the boys..She should be left to rest in peace..

      June 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • pwc94

      There are a lot of engagement and wedding rings passed down through families. Should they just be locked away in a jewelry box never to be seen or worn again simply because the original owner is dead? In that case what's the point of even keeping them as family heirlooms?

      June 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John

    How is this at all "ghoulish"? Speculative fiction with a interesting, and not unflattering take on what Diana could have been like if she were alive today. Ghoulish? So, no one is allowed to imagine what "could have been" in regards to anyone who died prematurely? Ridiculous.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Evelyn

    This was such a bad decision by Newsweek. They should be ashamed.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sky is Falling

      Ashamed!?! Overreact much? See the above comment by John, Evvy.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sherrie from Newfoundland

    Show some respect for the Family..Newsweek should be banned from ever posting royal pics..or at least be sued over the Picture..I feel bad for Diana's boys..who is always forced by the media to put up with this foolishness

    June 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rtbrno65

    ...and she would have formed a band with John Lennon and made a movie with Heath Ledger!

    June 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Helene

    I don't feel the photo of Diana is in bad taste at all. I was a fan of Diana's for many years and went to her funeral. When I saw the picture I smiled because I felt like she is still with us. It left me with a nice feeling. The writer is only trying to imagine what Diana would have been like today. I don't necessarily agree with her theories, but it is just something made up. I did laugh when another reader wrote "Actually I bet Diana is getting a kick out of this" and I agree that she would.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Larz

    Really.....what is the point of this exercise by Newsweek? Next thing you know Hustler will be doing a centerfold.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pull the other

    Newsweek is way too anglocentric...and I'm a Brit.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Lindy

    I didn't think it was possible, but tina brown has given us a new low in exploitation.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
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