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. James

    What's so terrible about imagining what would have been?

    June 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Nothing wrong with imagining–if you're fiction writer. But when you are the editor of a news magazine and you make things up, it sort of undercuts your credibility, don't you think? Especially when most of your imaginings aren't expressed as opinions or guesswork but as facts.

      June 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Pretty much every news magazine ever has the occasional work of fiction, which is (at least usually) pretty clearly labelled as such. This case is no different. Newsweek does not present this piece as truth - everybody knows that Di is long dead, and if you think otherwise you probably need help.

      June 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Not my post at 12:48!
    Wow, troll!

    June 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Youre welcome!

      June 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • bwp88

      And who the f are you?

      June 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stunnedandamazed

    With everything that is newsworthy on the planet, Newsweek puts this one the cover? Targeting the same customer base that reads the Enquirer and Star, Only difference is that this is printed on slick paper with better color, This should be a class at Harvard on not what to do Pathetic

    June 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Roscoe Chait

    I received the issue in the mail, and after checking it out, promptly threw it in the trash next to my dog's poop. Apart from the disgusting image of Diana, the prose is cliche-ridden and stupid. Much like the author and editor. If this is what I have to look forward to from Newsweek, I will cancel my subscription. It shouldn't be called Newsweek. How about TrashWeek, all the news that's never fit to print.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • bwp88

      The real comedy is that you expected more from Newsweek.

      June 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Adrian C.

    The author says of the image "...their heads facing toward each other as if they are walking together." Unless I'm seeing the image from two different angles, Diana is definitely not looking at Kate.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. wertyu

    Newsweek has officially jumped the shark. A once respected news magazine has become tabloid trash. Way to go Ms. Brown.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JOhn

    I don't see this as ghoulish at all. Similar to the Time cover a few months ago that showed Barack Obama standing with Ronald Reagan. Both covers were done in taste I thought.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chris

    Just reminds Prince William that his mother missed one of the most important days in his life...very poor taste

    June 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Helene Volat

      And frankly who cares!

      June 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeepers

    I read about this last night and I'm absolutely flabbergasted by the insensitivity and inappropriateness of it. Shame on you, Tina Brown.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FZM

    Had Di not died, she might very well be wearing a burka now. Or been reduced to little smouldering bits for her refusal to wear one.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. willem

    They keep deleting my posts. Im trying to let people know how to fighr ghoulz and zombies like that Dianer lady. Theyll probably delete this too. The authorities dont want the knowledge getting out. Use fire. Ghoulz is afraid of fire. If you see that princess di show her fire and she wont attack you.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Silly Me

      I admit that I did think it looked a bit ghoulish, and it reminded me of all that zombie stuff. Maybe she should be joined by Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother. aarrgh.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lucas

    I agree this doesn't belong in a publication like Newsweek, but as someone who lost a parent in my teen's many years ago, I often wonder what my father would have looked like at my wedding, with my kid's, etc. I think it would be cool to have a picture like this to support my imagination. I'm not living in a fantasy land, and would not put it on my wall, but just curious. I think there are probably lots of people out there that wonder the same. That said, perhaps if the family was consulted first, it may be less shocking to the rest of us? I don't think it's disrespectful as it's been many years since she passed and the photo itself is not displaying any inappropriate images, but maybe a little thoughless to the kids. I do agree it's strange that there was not the same uproar, but rather admiration for the music videos that featured Hank Williams, Jr and Nat King Cole. Perhaps that was because their families were involved in their making.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. willem

    remember GHOULS IS AFRAID OF FIRE. repost this so people wi
    l know.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Denese

    I agree...what a crock. No way would she look like that at 50. When she passed, her skin was already sagging due to sun exposure. She would not be that thin either – unless she was still anorexic.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. willem

    remember GHOULS IS AFRAID OF FIRE. repost this so people will

    June 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
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