The postal address of Queen Elizabeth II is simply “Her Majesty The Queen”. It doesn’t say what she’s queen of. As a gift for her 60th anniversary on the throne, why not extend her realm by making her Queen Elizabeth of Europe?
All right, that’s not going to make the agenda of the next summit. Europeans, who can’t even agree how to rescue Spanish banks from the abyss, aren’t about to come together over royalty. The last person to claim a European crown, Napoleon I, is still highly controversial. And the British queen is far too deferential to politicians to insist.
Still, the notion is appealing. The European Union lacks a single unifying leader, even one whose role is largely symbolic. As it stands, the EU can call on nothing more moving than a flag with a bunch of stars and a history of bureaucratic negotiations. Those just can’t evoke the same warm emotions as an anointed monarch.
The queen’s family is basically German and she married a Greek, so she could easily slip into a pan-European role. Language is no problem – with apologies to the Francophiles, English is already the lingua franca. Her presence wouldn’t get in the way of national sovereignty. She is already the head of state of 15 Commonwealth nations.
There would be global political gains. Americans are fascinated by the British royals but find the EU alienating. They’d be more respectful of a royal Europe led by a woman who knows how to look frumpily regal at all times. Meantime, British eurosceptics would turn into europhiles if their queen was at the top.
The crowned heads of Europe, what’s left of them, might not like being upstaged by the House of Windsor, which would need to be renamed. (That’s happened before – it was Saxe-Coburg and Gotha for a while.) But the British royals deserve the regional title – as the jubilee celebrations show, it has managed to combine democracy with pomp far better than any rivals. And to judge by the TV ratings at the last UK royal wedding, all but the most resolute republicans in Europe have a soft spot for Wills and Kate.