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. No

    Absolutely poor taste.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slider

      I am absolutely amazed that anyone, let alone a well known publication, would create these incredibly tacky pictures. I can only imagine the reaction by Diana's family, which is most likely complete shock. In addition, the so called time advanced picture of Diana is way off. If she is supposedly only 50, how on earth could she look older than an average 70 year old? Really an insult on numerous levels.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnnyDH

      I agree with all that, this is in poor taste, and is obviously a cheap publicity stunt. 50 IS old though...I don't think the photos are off...just in bad taste.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timme62

      Totally agree, the woman has been dead for 14 years. Let her rest in peace.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • nazia Ahmed Mirza

      i love sliders comment

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

    To publish a photo is one thing, to publish one that puts her next to a living person as if she were alive is kind of creepy. She's dead, leave her in peace.

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

    No one cares.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. CalgarySandy

    Just because it is legal to do this does not mean those who did it or those who support it are humane people. They are not.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phil Cook

    Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I love it. If Diana were alive I'm sure she'd have loved it too. I think Diana would be very proud of both of her Son's and Williams choice for a spouse. I also think that Daina would absolutely love Kate.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • really

      If she were alive, there would be no need for a FAKE photo. Durrrrrrrrrr

      June 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sunil

      You're absolutely right. There is something wrong with you.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • betty

      Not many reasonable people posting here today is there? lol Well at least there are two of us! I agree with you, Diana would have loved to be included in a picture with her daughter in law. She loved her sons dearly and would have wanted to see them married.

      June 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FauxNews

    Proof that she's still alive, that is Elvis walking behind them. So, when did the Enquirer editor move to Newsweek?

    June 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. msmaris04

    The photo too much. have a photo of her before she died for remembernce then go about writing an artilce that is purely for entertainmaint perposes.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patricia

    This has been done in artist renderings of many deceased people, including Elvis. This is just another artist rendering of what a deceased person would look like but in an up-to-date way.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary J.

    Not only macabre, but why, in any shape, form or size, is this news? This? On the cover of Newsweek? I would expect something like this on the cover of the National Enquirer, but not on Newsweek. Anything to sell, I guess. So pathetic.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pull the other


      June 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. USminority

    Should be in entertainment section

    June 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. pwc94

    I don't think it's the aging of her photo that's ghoulish so much as the photoshopping her into a picture with Kate. That's too much.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn

      I do agree with you very much. Well said

      June 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tricia

    If I wanted to read an Enquirer story I'd pick up a copy at the grocery store. Shame on Newsweek for publishing such tripe.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Molly

    I saw this picture and thought it was a terrible reflection of such a stunning woman. Who approved this? It is extremely disrespectful...to describe in words what she might be like if she were alive is one thing but to photoshop her to look this way is truly a slap in the face to her surviving friends and family and the many people who adored her.

    June 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Tricia

    One more thing: Tina Brown should apologize to William, Harry and Catherine. (For starters.)

    June 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. betty

    It seems to me people will complain about anything! I see nothing wrong with the picture. I am sure Diana herself would have no problem knowing she was 'shown' with her daughter in law, a daughter in law she will never meet or love. She loved her sons and that is good enough for me. Complain about something usefull for a change!

    June 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
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