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. ThePreacher2

    From the point of view of a former devoted reader, this once-proud journalistic edifice is truly in the cra*per now. Nothing left to do but flush. What were the owners expecting when they hired the likes of Tina Brown?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gordon

    A case of Tina Brown wishing she was royal. Extremely poor taste

    June 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Many posters are bothered that the British royal family is getting any attention at all. I understand this jealousy from all of its sources.
    We all understand it.
    Therefore, the next time you want to say, "oh, the Royals, who cares," be assured that we all understand what you are really saying about yourself.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KC


    June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Skeptic

    I can't believe how offended people have gotten over this.

    Who cares? Seriously – the royalty are all living the high life at the tax payer's expense.

    Must be so hard to inherit fame and fortune. Boo hoo.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      I remember how special her wedding was & how devistating it was when she died. It never seemed fair for Charles to marry her for heir's, she die & he's with Camille now. I think her appeal, like Kate's is they were common. I totally disagree with Newsweek, to disrespect her this way.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    This really isn't that big of a deal.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. William Marcy

    When do we have enough of Tina Brown? And why do we have to suffer her yet one more time?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jude

    i vote i couldnt care less about the british monarchy. sad she died but i dont want to follow the very thing we rebelled successfully against

    June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Barry

    I would say it’s a bit unseemly and shows rather poor taste.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cathy

    I'm sorry but this was just AWFUL. I wonder how her kids felt seeing this article and AWFUL MADE UP photos! If the author thinks she didn't offend anyone???, maybe she should ask Diana's son's!!!!
    . They have too much class to probably tell her what they really think.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    The editors say that this story is not be a stunt or a gimmick. Well it sure as hell ain't news either. For a magazine that is called Newsweek, you would think that actual "news" would be the central criteria of their cover stories - not a fantasy about a deceased, high school dropout with mental problems who chased married men for a hobby. Thank God, now I can quit reading People or National Enquirer - Newsweek has it all.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Randy

    Am I the only who is sick of Princess Diana?

    June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wendy

    I thought the people in England had more class than what Tina Brown is displaying. Shame on you Tina!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. susanbellnc

    I didn't mind it at all, and I don't think Diana would have either. I thought it was interesting actually. Stories/photos like this have been done about other people, but for some reason people are so touchy about Diana. She was a human being, period. She was a good person who did good things. It's sad she isn't around to continue that work, but her legacy lives on.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Janet

    I have been a devoted Newsweek reader for many years and I was as shocked as everyone else by this cover story. It was just plain stupid and totally unnecessary.

    Maybe Newsweek needed to be shaken up a bit, but Tina Brown seems to be doing an especially poor job of it. Bring back Newsweek's former editor, Jon Meacham. He had such class and integrity.

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