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. jeanne

    she would not have looked that bad/old as in the picture....thats whats wrong.....you aged her too much......

    June 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      Totally agree. That photo makes her look 70, not 50.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rand

      That's all that you find wrong with this...that she looks too old? Quite frankly, she looks better than she did in real life...ever. Too bad she can't thank Newsweek for the post-humous make over.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  2. linzzz016

    ok, i agree that the fake story about how she might be nowadays is messed up and ridiculous. as for the picture, i dont find it revolting at all. i think its a statement. its art. the way diana is looking forward and the way kate is looking to diana is symbolizing that kate now has diana as an influence, a role model, or something of that sort. anyone else see that?

    June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rachel M

    Tina should've stuck Biggie and Tupac in there too. Trifecta!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • zoundsman

      hahaha-I needed that laugh.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pearlsa

      .... lol... toooo funny.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Supposed to be – laughing with pop coming out of my nose!

      June 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bdgfn

    Diana was, and still is, a very popular public figure, evenin death. The legend that has lived on after her death is similar to that of John F Kennedy. Of course there are those who are intrigued by imagining what may have been. And there are those who cry foul when it is done. I can understand the feelings of the British in this. The article may not be in the best taste, but you have to agree, it will sell magazines.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rhonda

    Bad decision to do this article!! Very disrespectful and repulsive. Just shows this magazine has nothing new or is running out of steam since it has nothing worth printing.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nick

    JMJ! With all that's going on in the world that a supposedly serious journalistic magazine could cover, Newsweek has to resurrect dimwitted Diana. I'm so glad a cancelled my subscription long ago.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Polly

    I gave up my beloved New Yorker mag while Tina was in charge. Gave up Newsweek long ago. What Tina is: "Tilly the (would-be) tastemaker. Fluff and foolishness.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. zoundsman

    Oooooo-next time pass it before a focus group.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Anonymous

    The picture is creepy looking. Princess Diana didn't look this grotesque. She was a beautiful woman. If you want to write about her qualities and how she would have continued such endeavors, then fine. But you don't need the pics.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. cindee

    no way would Di have lived in the U. S. Too far from her boys!!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. @Dave

    Obama has nothing to do with this story. Nothing at all.
    If you prefer a more right-wing news channel, Fox is the one for you. Or, stay with MSNBC.
    Either way, CNN wouldn't miss you.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. erky

    Feeding crap to a celebrity obsessed world

    June 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andulamb

    We don't have enough celebrity gossip already? Now we need parallel universe celebrity gossip? Ooh, imagine... We could read articles such as "What Tom Cruise would be like if he were six feet tall" and "What kind of music the Beatles would be recording today if they had never broken up and none of them had died yet." Wouldn't that be fun? Um, no. Forget that it's in bad taste. More than anything, it's pointless. People who don't know other people, telling us what those people would be like if they were different. Wow, what a complete waste of time.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Pearlsa

    Although I believe the author meant well, this was a bad idea, totally tasteless. I don't believe Diana would have ever been this large either. Diana was a lady of style, class and we all remember her for that. I agree, let Diana rest in peace.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gayle

    Contrary to what Tina Brown has speculated, my guess is that Diana life would have been as follows, if she were alive: She'd be a dried up has been, coming out of her third sting at Betty Ford, would look at least 70 and would be on husband no. 5...some boy toy who strokes her ego now that the adoring crowds and papparazzi (that she actually loved, despite what she said) are gone.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • LR

      How kind you are.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack wagon

      seems you're describing your life.

      June 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
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