I’ve been wallowing in exit polls and poring over debt-reduction plans, so perhaps you’ll forgive a brief walk on the low-brow side.

No, not Sarah Palin — though her show-a-little-more-presidential-leg interview with Barbara Walters is an awfully tempting topic.

No, today’s subject is the royal engagement.

Come on. What girl — what middle-aged woman, for that matter — doesn’t secretly love a good princess story?

And here’s what I love about this one: the princess-to-be as Modern Bride.

Kate Middleton might be wearing Diana’s engagement ring, but this is not his mother’s engagement.

For one thing, William and Kate actually know each other.

Diana was 19 when she was engaged to Prince Charles, 13 years older. They had been dating for a scant six months. She was — or at least, no one was around to claim she wasn’t — a virgin, a status that seemed of particular importance to the royal family.

In their first interview, the pair seemed stumped by the opening question: What did they have in common? “Very difficult question,” the prince muttered, before looking to Diana for help. “Sense of humor?” she ventured. “Every outdoor activity — except I don’t ride.” An astute observer might have discerned the notes of future discord in the prince’s answer to whether they were in love: “whatever ‘in love’ means.”

William and Kate seem to have a more normal relationship — at least as normal as these things can be when one half of the couple is second in line to the British throne. They’re the same age, 28. They met in college; they’ve been dating — off but mostly on — for nine years. They’ve been living together, and even the queen seems unfazed.

Middleton’s been pitied as “Waity Katie,” but waiting means being less likely to having to say you’re sorry but this has all been a dreadful mistake. She seems less like the shy teenager glancing through her bangs at Prince Charming than a comfortable, even sassy, equal, as in this exchange:

British interviewer: “There’s a story that goes around that you had a picture of him on your wall.”

William: “There wasn’t just one, there was about 20.”

Kate: “He wishes. No, I had the Levi’s guy on my wall, not a picture of William, sorry.”

William: “It was me in Levi’s, honestly.”

He wishes? Levi’s cheesecake? I love this girl! I mean, this woman.

Ruth Marcus’ e-mail address is marcusr(at symbol)washpost.com.

© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group

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