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. rebaducote

    The Newsweek’s cover photoshop of Diana is shameful. I am stopping my subscription. Leave this poor woman alone! She has suffered enough at the hands of the media. http://bit.ly/lec5YT

    June 30, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hockeyn109

    Blah blah blah so f-ing what.

    June 30, 2011 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. EduCation


    June 30, 2011 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. john

    With all thats happening in the world today..this is what they come up with?Keep people distracted with trivial gossipy rubbish while more important matters are going on.It's equivalent to Nero playing his fiddle as the city burns.Diana is dead...get over it and move on already.I never understood the fascination people have with celebrities,especially dead ones.These are the same people who deny the existence of God.

    June 30, 2011 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Carol McGonigal

    RIP Diana! She suffered enough from the news media and from her husband!

    June 30, 2011 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. DisgruntledGirl

    I lost my mother, I would be pretty upset to see this. I'm sure her sons are depressed seeing this over breakfast.
    At least Rardo's comment at the top made me laugh.
    Thanks, Rardo!

    June 30, 2011 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  7. Devara

    If Tina Brown knew Diana so well, then she would have realized how incredibly tacky and offensive the pictures would be. Just another media hound, cashing in on Diana's death.

    June 30, 2011 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Brad

    The world got over World War II faster than the death of Diana. People, just get over it. This cover doesn't change anything.

    June 30, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. gedwards

    I doubt very much that she'd still have the same hair style. Besides, is this the ultimate paparazzi – digitally making photos to make fake news?

    June 30, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. coffeebean02

    First of all, Diana was extremely well put together and took obvious care of her good looks...there is no way she would have let herself look that way at age 50! She would have taken advantage of all the modern techniques to have improved herself and her image. Bad job Newsweek.

    June 30, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. norma fitch

    The day of William and Kate's wedding I was struck by how happy they both looked, and how proud he looked of her. I remember thinking how much Diana would have loved Kate and that obviously Wills thought so as well as proven when he gave her Diana's ring as a show of his love for them both. There is nothing wrong with what News Week did. It just symbolizes what we all wish was true.

    June 30, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Charles

    Heads facing towards each other? What photo is this article talking about?

    June 30, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. D.

    Excuse me if I feel that this cover is really stupid and disrespectful to her memory.

    June 30, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ed

    I don't find it offensive, I just think its really dumb. She's dead. She never met Middleton. She never looked like that. Whats the point? They did that with Jon Benet Ramsey too. I just don't see the point.

    June 30, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Pete

    It was bad taste only in that we had to endure another round of pity for a shallow dead "celebrity". One these news hogs die can't we just forget them?

    June 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
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