The Princess Royal’s husband banished bad luck when they visited a Hindu temple in Sri Lanka – by smashing a coconut.

Anne watched as Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence hurled the fruit to the ground, sending a spray of coconut water over the nearby press and he threw his hands up in amazement.

Earlier Anne paid her respects to the fallen when she laid a wreath in their memory in Colombo, during her first visit to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemetery as the organisation’s president.

Princess Royal visits war gravesThe Princess Royal visited the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Jawatte Cemetery in Colombo (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The couple received a rapturous welcome when they arrived at Vajira Pillayar Kovil, a Hindu temple in the Sri Lankan capital, to receive a blessing from the chief priest.

A shimmering scarf of gold and red silk was draped over the princess and her husband’s shoulders, a garland of jasmine and rose flowers were placed around their necks and each received a pottu in the middle of their forehead.

Sir Tim was asked to smash the coconut, which is symbolic of getting rid of bad luck and welcoming better fortunes.

Anne and Sir Tim Laurence with dancersThe Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence visited Vajira Pillayar Kovil Hindu temple in Colombo (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A procession of female dancers and musicians playing drums and an oboe-like instrument called a Nadaswaram preceded the couple as they walked into the temple.

Inside the huge building the cacophony of the droning music was deafening, and they stood before a shrine to Lord Ganesh and touched an offering of fruit – including pomegranates, mangoes and bananas – betel leaves and a garland of jasmine flowers for the deity.

Chief Priest Sachithanantha Kurukal went into the shrine to conduct the pooja or blessing as Anne and her husband watched, and they later toured the temple viewing the many shrines to Hindu gods.

Outside they were offered the chance to feed sacred cows, a revered animal in Hinduism, and Anne held some vegetation as they munched away.

Anne feeds cowsAnne feeds cattle, sacred to Hindus, prior to departing Vajira Pillayar Kovil Hindu temple (Jonathan Brady/PA)

At the CGWC’s Jawatta Cemetery in Colombo, Anne paid her respects to service personnel from Sri Lanka and Commonwealth countries, the majority serving during the Second World War, buried at the graveyard kept in immaculate condition.

A short service of remembrance was held where a bugler played the Last Post before a minute’s silence was observed and the princess laid a wreath of poppies with a handwritten card which read: “We will remember them”, and signed: “Anne”.

During last year’s Remembrance weekend it was announced Anne would take on her new role, succeeding the Duke of Kent who had been CGWC president since 1970, and the King was announced as the CWGC’s first patron.