In 1947, as Britain was emerging from the horrors of the Second World War but still suffering the hardship of rationing.
Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey and the whole country shared in the young couple’s hopefulness and joy.
In 1948, with the city scarred by bombed-out buildings, London hosted what became known as the Austerity Games, the first summer Olympic Games to be held since Hitler’s notorious Berlin Games of 1936.
The damage wrought by an economic crash cannot be compared with the death and destruction of a world war.
But we too found the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton a welcome source of distraction as we coped with hard times in 2011.
And, in 2012, as the country limps out of a long and deep recession, we will have two more opportunities to celebrate some of the people whose service to our country makes us all proud.
After 60 years in position, the Queen commands universal respect, and her Diamond Jubilee will give us the chance to remind the whole world of the qualities that made Britain great.
And, with the Olympic Games returning to London for a third time, we will be able to spend a summer rooting for British cyclists and swimmers, sailors and rowers, young men and women competing for their country. 2012 promises to be a very special year.
by Nick Boles