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. Eric

    Bad taste or not, it's an idiotic waste of space in what used to be a magazine of substance. It's been dumbed way down since Brown came along, but this was a new low. We canceled our subscription today.

    June 29, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chicago Nick

    C'mon, they do this photoshopping all day long everywhere and now they moan about it? It's a 'imagination' piece, I see nothing wrong with it, in fact it's nice they're even thinking about her I would say. It would be something to see if she was still alive to see her grown son's marrying and the one marrying a beauty just like she was.

    I think she would actually like it. It's not like they're naked on the beach or whatever.

    Frankly seeing her dating a Muslim which got her killed bothered me more than this does.

    June 29, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richk

      "Photoshop" is not a verb......

      June 30, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Name*Bucktooth

    No Comment!

    June 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jill S.

    Princes William and Harry should get a moratorium on future media coverage on their mother, and Brown should be demoted a few pegs. All this coverage on this lady needs to end, seriously. It wasn't enough to kill her, the media has to drag her name through the dregs to drum up $$ on slow news days (Newsweek).

    June 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. shane

    what is the big deal it's a pic of her walking next to her daughter-in-law now if it were her in a lude manner i would under stand why people would be up set

    June 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lex

    The idea that Diana would be living in NYC is absolutely absurd. She would never leave her boys on the opposite side of the pond no matter what. She may have traveled quite a bit but she would have never left England, those boys were her pride and joy.

    June 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chandraG

    I don't see why Brown has to be criticized for what she wrote. She actually saw Diana as what she was shaping up to be: a women with loose moral standard, hedonist, who occasionally would do some charity work, but would mainly devote her time for her carnal pleasure. In fact, counterfactual stories like that should open eyes of many "celebrities" whose life is spent in pursuit of nothingness.

    June 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanSam

      You are mistaken. Princess Diana was a wonderful woman. I doubt you do any charity work.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    She was spotted in a Burger King with Elvis.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. TrashCanSam

    It's a beautiful picture of two beautiful women.. nothing wrong here.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. NoodleHat

    I took a dump in my pants.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • bwaithaka

      really?! hilarious!

      June 30, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Laura

    The whiners are sorry they did not think of it. It is quite brilliant. Modern technology. Very tastefully done.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kyle H. Davis

    I don't see this being worse than the Chinese underwear advertisement that used images of her sitting around in her underwear.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bayousara

    I am surprised that Camilla, the Royal Pig, wasn't featured instead of Diana since Camilla is officially poor Kate's "step-mother-in-law" and recently gave Kate a bracelet with a charm with initial "C" on it. "C" for Catherine, of course, but also "C" for Camilla and Charles. Reminder: It was Camilla who gave Prince Charles a pair of cufflinks with two "C's" intertwined as a WEDDING present when he married Diana Spencer. Diana found out about it just before the wedding, but she felt it was too late to call off the wedding.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      That's not the point. The whole tribute was because Diana would have turned 50 this year, had she lived. That has absolutely nothing to do with Camilla.

      June 30, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. roy d powers

    very bad taste diana would have never those boys she loved them so munch at 50 she would have been a great woman of the world.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. dx2718

    This is a bit of science-fiction; alternate reality in which Di's car accident never happens, and she's still alive today. Still ghoulish? If so, so is all alternate-reality scifi – Back To The Future anyone?

    June 30, 2011 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
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