MOSCOW -- Britain's Princess Anne, a distant relative of the late Czar Nicholas II, arrived in Moscow Thursday to begin a two-week visit that could lead to a trip to the Soviet Union by Queen Elizabeth.
'The arrival in the U.S.S.R. of a member of the royal family is also regarded here as the manifestation of respect for the Soviet Union and its president (Mikhail Gorbachev),' the official Tass news agency said.
The princess will stay in Moscow three days and then travel to Siberia, Turkmenia and Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, where she will open a series of British exhibits and trade shows.
She also is scheduled to visit the heavily polluted Lake Baikal, the world's deepest inland sea.
'She is a very serious lady. She is not just interested in tourism for tourism's sake,' an official at the British Embassy said of Anne's extensive two-week schedule. 'She wants to see the country.'
It is the princess's first official visit to the Soviet Union, although she was in the country in 1973 for the European Equestrian championships as a member of the British team.
Anne's father, Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh and the royal consort, is president of the International Equestrian Federation and accompanied her on the 1973 visit.
Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth, also traveled to the Soviet Union last year in an unofficial capacity to see performances by the National Youth Theater of Britain.
But Anne's is the most extensive royal visit to the country since the reign of the last czar, Nicholas II, who abdicated in 1917 and was murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918 with his wife, four daughters and hemophiliac son. Anne is a third cousin to Nicholas II.
Anne's visit also coincides with a resurgence of Soviet interest in the monarchy. Several parties have formed in recent months in an effort to return royalty to Russia.
Princess Anne's May 24-June 6 trip could be a rehearsal for a visit by her mother, Queen Elizabeth, who has been invited to the Soviet Union by Gorbachev.
'Her majesty accepted in principle,' the British Embassy official said. 'The question is still under consideration.'
He stressed that the queen's trips are planned far in advance.
'Moscow believes that the development of contacts between the British royal court and the U.S.S.R. will give important human and public impetus to the development of understanding between the two nations,' Tass said.
Anne, only daughter of Queen Elizabeth, will go to Irkutsk in Siberia Sunday to visit Lake Baikal, which Soviet ecologists are attempting to save from pollution generated by nearby paper mills.
On Wednesday she will visit Askhabad, capital of the central Asian republic of Turkmenia. She will also visit Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad and site of an epic battle of World War II.
Anne is scheduled to be in Kiev on June 4 to open a series of exhibits called British Days in the Soviet Union. She leaves for home on June 6.