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. bill

    Well, we are talking about Newsweek and they get their magazine splashed all over the internet/tv. So I guess it's 'mission accomplished' for the marketing team. Free advertisement, folks. They do this stuff on purpose.

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

    law suit anyone?

    June 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drito

      Lawsuit for what? Newsweek didn't break any laws.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Henry

    No taste whatever. The magazine has set a new standard for money grubbing. If I was a subscriber, I would cancel today.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Non-Hyporcite

    How Hypocritical of Diana's followers to coin names like Grave Robber etc....weren't they the ones who sang paeans and said "Diana Lives" in the minds of the people – well...here we go – she does live and that's the price you pay for living a public life and have flings with bodyguards and rich men.
    Some memories are lovely as the lady was and some are not so good too.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gabbyann

    Tacky, tacky, tacky.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joel Johnston

    I find it tastefully done, and of course, our dear Diana is looking as beautiful and sophisticated as we would have imagined.

    Things like this are done all the time, what is the shame? It demonstates how this young man has married a woman that holds herself to the same level as his mother, something a mother and father should be proud of.

    I just don't get the guy in the back?

    I love the dress she is wearing! It look WOW!

    June 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff S

    "their heads facing toward each other"...if thats true, then please show us the actual cover. In this one, Diana's head is either facing forward, or possibly a bit away from Kate. Nice writing.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tina

    It's an insult to Diana and her children. She would have looked much better than that. It's also very creepy. Newsweek has proven itself to be nothing more than a rag magazine like the National Enquirer.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sherrie from Newfoundland

    Get a life..let that poor women rest in peace..this is so sick..I think the family should sue..how ridiculas..and Poor kate ahs a right to live her own life..stop comparing her to Diana..who I am sure wasn't 100% perfect..people like this reporter shoudl be banned for writing and posting ridiculas things...how do we know other stories aren't alterated..??????

    June 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Undead cover? grave robber? way to overreact and sensationalize.Like the article or don't like it but taking the time to think of the most provocative way to describe your disgust makes the appalled just as appalling.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathlyn Parks

    I've already let my subscription expire, but seeing this cover I wish I hadn't so I could cancel in protest.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. humtake

    It's only a problem to those who have nothing else to do in their lives but whine and complain. They do this kind of stuff with all sorts of dead people. I saw something similar to this about MLK a few years ago. I guess South Park needs to do an episode now on what the correct amount of time is ok before you can answer the question "What would this person be like now?"

    June 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pinewalker

    I just got done reading this article while waiting for a car repair. I have to agree. I read it because I liked Diana, but it kept referring to things she is doing like as if she were here and it was a little creepy.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MLS

    Tabloid journalism at its "finest"

    June 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. paul

    absolutely ridiculous! I expect this from the NATIONAL ENQUIRER and THE DAILY MAIL where tabloid stories are rampant but from Newsweek?! Tina Brown sits on MORNING JOE all the time making it seem as though she is smarter than most or at the very least, more informed. Well, Ms Brown, you are not informed enough since you thought wrong about the review of this horrible issue and your sophmoric take on what Princess Diana would be like today. Next Newsweek issue will most likely contain an much REQUIRED apology.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Esther Smith

      My immediate question to all naysayers is: WHY care? The author is hardly maligning Diana's name or reputation. She isn't making fun of Diana's death or legacy. She is especially not trying to cause chaos or a scandal. The purpose was to evoke a thoughtful reaction from readers: who would this woman be if she was still alive?

      Newsweek can create such an article about my mother long after she passes away, provide its done in a kind, responsible manner. Hell, they can photoshop he right next to her future daughter-in-law.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      @Esther Smith, well said!

      June 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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