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. AndreJ

    This is truely disgusting to the extreme and no sympathy for Diana's family and absolutely no respect. There is one thing that comes to mind though, is there no law to prevent this from happening, let alone trying to profit from it (also guessing there was no permission granted from the royals and her family to do this). Now that this was done, I believe the right thing to do to make this right is to give all sale proceeds to a charity that newsweek will profit from.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dave

    Geez folks. It's just a magazine cover. And the article seems to be a creative way to honor her memory, not bring it disgrace. Talk about making something out of nothing.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KMAN821

    She's DEAD ... as is interest in her!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Lana

    What is most disturbing is Tina Brown's apparent and extreme obsession with the late princess. If she weren't the editor-in-chief of Newsweek, I'm sure this never would have been published.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Yes, exactly.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Alice

    Seriously? Evidently there is nothing more interesting or noteworthy that is worth a cover story this week.
    A fourteen years dead former princess- you have reached a new low.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Gene S.

    Even the National Enquierer would not do something like this! In bad taste, and illustrates the desperate need for attention Newsweek needs to survive in today's web-based information age. Not only is this in poor taste, but if accepted, what will it lead to, JFK at 80, Elvis at 100, Abe Lincoln at 150.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Abe Lincoln would be over 200 years old now....and relax Gene.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Duffwoman

    Lighten up people, the pictures aren't bad and what is wrong with headlining what she would have been like at 50? I think speaking of Fashion Week and Bridget Jones Diary is a bit tacky. Other news sites are just ticked that it wasn't their story! Had it of been a picture of her by herself, no one would have had anything to say about it.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MindiK

      Then why feature Kate in the picture? That's what puts it over into the grotesque and disturbing category.

      June 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Daniel Troppy

    Not STYLISH at all...

    June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. half fast

    I cancelled my subscription to Newsweek years ago. It was the right choice.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jkr

    Read Newsmax instead; it's a real magazine.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kazz

    "I know Photoshop"
    No, actually, you don't.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nina

    Yet another example of how Tina Brown ruins every magazine she comes into contact with–she trashed The New Yorker, now she's moved on to Newsweek. Why does she keep getting jobs? I've got a Master's in writing and publishing, I need a job–I will gladly take Tina Brown's place and, frankly, do a better job than she has done. Please fire her, Newsweek!

    June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Denizen Kate

    I think they should change their name from Newsweek to Tabloidweek. But then, most media these days are sensationalistic tabloids, including CNN.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Any excuse to put Diana on the cover ...

    Magazines will do *anything* to find an excuse to put Diana on their cover – even running this insipid, inane article. I'm supposed to be in awe of Tina Brown? I don't *think* so.

    June 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. marineace

    This explains why Newsweek is no longer relevant.......it's more like People Magazine......Totally creepy cover.....

    June 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speakinghonest

      I would have enjoyed a 50 yr bikini clad diana image......ummmmmmmm..hot.

      June 29, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
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