Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and footballer-turned-sporting ambassador David Beckham have missed out on this year's New Year Honours list.
A quirk in the system means the pair must wait for a period of time since their OBE awards to receive a knighthood.
Also, for the first time in the modern era of the honours system which began in 1917 with the advent of the OBE, women have outnumbered men on the list.
Of the 1,195 people named in the list, 51 per cent are women, compared to 40 years ago when the figure was just 17 per cent. As recently as 2004, the number of women receiving honours stood at barely a third of the total.
Inspirational women including actress Penelope Keith and opera singer Katherine Jenkins have outnumbered those of the opposite sex.
Other females include sports stars like Ann Jones, 75, the 1969 Wimbledon champion and business leaders such as Katherine "the Great" Garrett-Cox, 46, the chief executive of investment giant Alliance Trust.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing accusations of cronyism after a succession of senior Conservatives and supporters of the party were recognised in the New Year Honours list.
The roll call of awards for serving the nation included senior aides to the late Baroness Thatcher, long-serving MPs, Tory stalwarts in the Prime Minister’s Oxfordshire heartland, two Tory donors and a public relations chief who has holidayed with Mr Cameron.
It also featured the star of The Apprentice, Karren Brady, who is appointed CBE for services to entrepreneurship and encouraging women in business. She is being wooed by the Tories to become a MP in 2015 or to stand as Mayor of London the following year.
Labour MP John Mann said: “It’s inappropriate to use the honours system for political patronage. That’s what’s happening – everyone can see that. It is demeaning for David Cameron to use his position as Prime Minister like this.”