Published: March 7, 1997

DEAR Queen,

First off, do you mind if I call you Queen? I don't want to come off as disrespectful, but ''Her Royal Highness Elizabeth Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith'' just didn't fit on the address line of my e-mail program.

It's my understanding that you're new to the Web and new to Net travel as well. I see your site -- http://www.royal.gov.uk -- went live on Thursday. And I hear from those who saw you on the tube (or, as you say, ''the telly'') that you actually sat down at the keyboard yourself, rather than letting some footman (some Web-man?) do the driving.

Well, bully for you! Truly, now the sun never sets on the British Empire. At any hour of the day or night, someone -- probably a schoolchild in a faraway land your family used to control -- will be dialing you up for a school report or perhaps just a chat. That's so kewl! (Or, as you would probably say, ''Smashing!'')

I should mention that I'm not a subject of yours, just a lowly Net serf in a far outpost of the former American colonies called ''Silicon Valley.'' Even though one of your cats, Sir Francis Drake, went boating up this way once, this place was never under the Union Jack. This was Spanish territory, then Mexican territory, and at the moment it's ruled by a bunch of guys from the Order of the Geek -- Sir Larry of Oracle, Sir Andy of Intel, Sir Marc of Netscape and others.

King Bill, of the House of Microsoft, maintains his castle in a dark, dank place far to the north of here. But he treats this as an important colony. Considering the amount of sectarian strife around here between the Wintel camp and the Macolytes, I guess you could say this is his own little Northern Ireland.

But enough about me and mine. As for that Web site of yours, I hope you'll permit me to offer a few pieces of advice:

First off, I heard you are the richest woman on the face of planet Earth -- but it looks as if your Web site was done on the cheap by some intern with an ''HTML in Seven Days'' book. You really need to open Her Majesty's checkbook and lay out a little scratch for a RealAudio server so your home page can play ''God Save the Queen'' when somebody clicks on the big crown. While you're at it, some animated GIFs of the marching Beefeaters would really pump it up, too.

I would go easy on pictures of your fancy houses (I mean, c'mon, who do you think you are -- Bill Gates?) and go for some live content that will keep those subjects coming back. If you had one of these new Java-based chat servers running, you could have all your folks in the Order of the British Empire come round for a bit of midnight levity. This is known as pulling an all-knighter online. Hahahahaha. Sorry. Little bit of geek humour.

I see from your official itinerary that you like to hang out at the track and throw a lot of parties. Lovely. I would guess you often wear one of your many crowns when you're out and about. I'll bet you even have one with a flashing red light on top to make it easier for the peasants to spot you. My idea is this: Why not go down to Crowns-R-Us and accessorize one of them with a Web-camera so your subjects can see what the queen is doing at any given moment? Is that a little over the top? OK. If QueenTV isn't your Webcasting cup of tea, consider what we Americans do with some of our endangered species: I'm talking electronic monitoring collars. If you wore one, your subjects could dial up your page and know exactly where in the Commonwealth you are at any given moment. You should really consider outfitting your entire family with these.

Oh, about the family -- I know you've had your hands full with the boys lately. I'm sorry to tell you that on certain areas of the Net, such as the alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.celebrities newsgroup, photos of your sons' various partners -- Lady Diana Spencer to Koo Stark to Fergie -- are very popular. There's one of Di disembarking from a helicopter where her dress is . . . And one of Fergie laid out on a beach blanket in all her porcine glory . . . and, well, I guess you'll see for yourself soon enough. Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do about this. These pictures will be floating around the wired world like so much space junk until the Thames runs blue. Anyway, if you want to make sure the boys don't become a royal pain in cyberspace, I really think you should look into SurfWatch or Netnanny - these are software filters that will keep the randy little buggers from dialing up trouble. You won't have to be looking over their shoulder constantly to see if they're reading alt.rum.sodomy.lash or other such rot.

After you've visited all the sites related to corgis, racehorses and your other hobbies (do you, um, have any hobbies that involve actual people?), there are plenty of other places to hit. For starters, the Alta Vista search engine lists more than 10,000 things named after you. Everything from libraries to laundromats, park benches to primary schools - all with your name on them. That's . . . so kewl.

I understand you have a lot of time on your hands and a stoicism that lets you soldier on when all around you is crumbling. That's lovely. You should make a smashing Netsurfer. ''Britannia rules the Waves'' and all that . . . Stay kewl, Queen!

Your friend,


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