The Princess Royal has been welcomed to Sri Lanka with a dazzling performance by traditional dancers – and carried some of her bags off the plane.

Anne had a bag in each hand and a handbag as she walked down the plane’s steps with husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence for the start of a three-day visit celebrating the UK’s ties with the Commonwealth country.

A large group of dancers and musicians performed for the couple with drummers playing a hypnotic beat in the hot and humid conditions.

Anne in Sri LankaThe Princess Royal signs the Golden Book, for VIP visitors, on her arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The princess is visiting the country at the request of the Foreign Office and will begin a whistle-stop tour to mark the UK’s bilateral relations with the nation, including a meeting later with President Ranil Wickremesinghe and First Lady Maithree Wickremesinghe.

Andrew Patrick, British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, was among the dignitaries who formally welcomed the princess and said afterwards: “This visit is the best possible way to mark 75 years of diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka.”

Anne will undertake engagements and meet local communities and faith groups in the capital Colombo, the city of Kandy in the centre of Sri Lanka, and Jaffna on the northern tip of the country, home to many of the country’s Tamil community, from Wednesday to Friday.

Anne in Sri LankaThe Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, are greeted by Andrew Patrick (left), British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Patrick added: “That’s the aim, to show her as much of the country, as much of the diversity as we can, and we think it’s the first visit by a member of the royal family to Jaffna, certainly in many many years, so that will be historic.”

In 1948 Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, gained its independence after more than a century of British rule.

The princess, 73, has been dubbed the King’s “right-hand woman” thanks to her support for her brother, and her reputation as one of the hardest-working royals in Charles’s slimmed-down monarchy.

The trip is the royal family’s first overseas tour of 2024.