The Queen is being asked to promote Derby's mayor to a lord mayor as part of next year's diamond jubilee celebrations.
The monarch is expected to create one new lord mayor as she marks the 60th anniversary of her reign in June 2012.
Most major cities have a lord mayor and Derby City Council says the award would reflect the area's growing ambition and maturity.
Rival cities for the honour include Southampton, Cambridge and Salford.
The Queen gave Derby city status during her silver jubilee in 1977 and council leader Philip Hickson said he hoped her recent visits to the city would help the bid.
He said: "We're hoping if we can get past the sifting by the civil servants and get to the Palace, there will be some affection for us which could make us a runner.
"The Queen has done lots of engagements here - opening the football stadium and last year's Maundy service.
"Our neighbours Nottingham and Leicester both have lord mayors and we've got the ambition and maturity to think Derby should have one too."
Mr Hickson said the council's application would focus on the city's industrial heritage and large number of hi-tech businesses.
A decision is due in early 2012 and if Derby's bid is successful its first lord mayor would be appointed in May.