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The article inside was written by Diana biographer and longtime provocateur Tina Brown. She's also Newsweek's editor-in-chief, having taken over after her online publication, the Daily Beast, merged late last year with the decades-old publication.
"What would she have been like?" Brown writes of Diana, who would have turned 50 on Friday, nearly 14 years after her death in a Paris car crash. "Still great-looking: that's a given."
The magazine's new issue also features an imagined Diana Facebook page and a slideshow comparing the fashion styles of Diana and Middleton, who married Diana's oldest child, Prince William, in April.
About the cover, a Los Angeles Times headline asked, "Shocking, brilliant or just plain cheap?" An Atlantic Wire headline added, "How Creepy Is Princess Diana's Ghost on the Cover of Newsweek?"
Brown's answer: Not at all.
"We wanted to bring the memory of Diana alive in a vivid image that transcends time and reflects my piece," she said in a statement.