London — Princess Anne must be wondering what happened.
After years of rough treatment by the British press, the Queen's second child is finding that the news media, if not exactly eating out of her hand, are no longer snapping at her heels.
The reason is that Anne is making a name for herself for devotion to a cause that takes her to sometimes dangerous places.
As president of the Save the Children Fund, she has just completed a three-week tour of eight African and Mideastern countries, including a visit to Beirut.
The popular dailies, for a long time a scourge to the horse-loving and rather snooty princess, have had to concede that she made an excellent job of it.
Anne's brisk way with photographers determined to snap her as she plunged headlong from her steed into a ditch of muddy water, or at some other embarrassing moment, left the impression on many Britons that she was short tempered and possibly even arrogant.
Mass circulation dailies responded by dogging her footsteps everywhere she went, reporting every mishap, sharp remark, or impatient scratching of her brow.
What the papers failed to note was that the princess had, over several years, clocked up quite a tally of places visited as titular head of the Save the Children Fund which now operates in 57 countries.
Her breakthrough came when on a trip through Africa, she was photographed in mercilessly hot climates slogging through villages, talking to children, and taking a close interest in the conditions in which people lived.
Then, at the last minute, she tacked on a trip to battle-scarred Beirut for meetings with refugee children.
Princess Anne is still a self-possessed young woman, with a tongue that retains a sharp edge, but her straight talking in descriptions of poverty when she returned to Britain has obviously impressed reporters.