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. Seriously...

    You people are all too sensitive. It's not like her passing happened last week. The article showed no malice towards her or her family. Society is too hypersensitive these days to everything. Take some prozac.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Damien

    NewsWEAK !

    June 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. NYC945

    Absolutely appalling. Let Diana rest in peace and let Kate live her real life. If you want to write made up crap like this, you should NOT be working for a supposed reliable "news" magazine. I'm shocked they ever allowed such garbage to be published. Unless you knew Diana back when she was alive then you should mind your own damn business. I'm pretty sure there's a lot going on the world that's ACTUALLY happening for you to write about.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • surfs-up

      I'm relatively sure that someone is still making money off of dead Elvis,,he's been dead for 40 or so years,,someone is still making money off of dead Marilyn,she's been gone for a while also, and Princess Di well,,,, I'm sure you can add a few of your own. After all, people just like stuff that will fill them up without too much gas. What wouldn't we pay money to see ? Good question. How about this ; Superstar Zombies !!,,,see Elvis and Marilyn like you've never seen them before.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. omg

    i think the pictures are nice

    June 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marcia P

    Just another reminder of why I canceled my subscription with Newsweek long ago. The lacked good judgement then and obviously nothing has changed!!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sara

    Photos are creepy but the article is awesome. Its enchanting thinking about what the princess would be doing and how much joy and love she would spreading around the world.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andulamb

      Seriously? That's the kind of thing you think about? She was just a person, you know. She wasn't the world's fairy godmother.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill

    My first thought was that they over-aged her for 50. Just sayin'!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kathy b

    But – she's DEAD

    June 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • lou50

      you can't say that america is living in a dream world and this fits. now your statement may cause someone to go into therapy. maybe even newsweek will provide counselors.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. T. Jolly

    News Tina – News, not Chick what if, imaginary suppose fiction. Join The View girl chat and leave Newsweek to someone, anyone, who will give us real NEWS stories!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kent

    "News" Week? Lately it's been a bunch of opinion pieces. Hardly any news to be read. I'm glad I don't pay for them to show up in my mailbox.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andulamb

    If Diana were still alive, Tina Brown wouldn't have written such a stupid article. Catch-22.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tami

    I like this, Diana I believe would love her daughter-in-law... she has the same air about her as Diana and she is very classy which gives allot to the royals.... they need it... just look at Charles and his choice for a women... kinda makes me think of trailer trash.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Coolius Unroolius

    The only bad thing about Princess "Die" is that she didn't take the rest of those inbred, hemophiliac Royals with her on her trip to meet Satan in hell. Stupid Brits: fawning on their loser monarchy like slaves.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Herbie Walker

    I saw the issue yesterday, and it is indeed ghoulish. However, considering Ms. Brown's background, it's not surprisng that the icon that replaced Marilyn Monroe for the international set is Diana. And this attempt to oddly elongate her life shows the pervasive influence of business on culture. In other words, this feels like a bizarre attempt to "extend the franchise."

    But this really isn't original, as those ads with "pre-deceased celebrity spokespersons" (John Wayne, for one) have been around for several years.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Decorah

    I thought Newsweek would be many steps above the "sensationalism" ploy. Very disappointing. Lack of respect for the Royal family.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
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