David Beckham is many things. He’s the world’s most famous soccer (aka football) star, though he just retired after the 2012/13 season. He is a model, advertising pitchman, a dad and the husband of a Spice Girl.
David Beckham was the face of London’s successful bid to obtain the 2014 Olympics, and of England’s unsuccessful one to land the 2018 World Cup. He is the published author of three books, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and if not the most famous Englishman alive today, certainly in the top five or 10.
One thing David Beckham is not, however, is a knight. At least in 2014, the 38-year-old mega-star will not be called “Sir David.” And that decision recently set off a heated internal power struggle on the committee of elite Britons who decide such things.
Every year, an “Honours Commitee” made up of leading civil servants, politicians and other prominent British subjects sends a list to the queen of who should receive the nation’s ultimate honor, knighthood. This year, Lord Sebastian Coe a leading member of the committee who also chairs a subcommittee that specializes in picking sports figures for knighthood, was a strong backer of David Beckham.
Coe’s support was based not only on Beckham’s remarkable football career, but on his dedication to bringing the Olympics to London. With Coe in his court, Beckham was believed to be a a slam dunk for knighthood in 2014, The Daily Mail reported.
But it didn’t work out that way.
According to inside sources quoted in the Mail and in Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper, after last year’s award of knighthood to bicyclist Bradley Wiggins, only 33 years old and still active in his sport, a majority of committee members felt that to dole out another honor to a young athlete would be unseemly.
“It was unfair to say this was too soon. It was more than six years ago that he helped London win the right to host the Olympic Games,” said one unnamed source quoted in the Mirror. “The faceless wonders who decided honors are happy to dole them out to time-serving politicians but not sports heroes who have achieved far more.”
Beckham and perhaps even more so, his wife Victoria — once known as “Posh Spice,” a member of England’s popular 1990s girl-group The Spice Girls — were expecting the honor. Mrs. David Beckham especially was said to be “mortified” by the rejection, according to Ireland’s Independent newspaper.
“Victoria’s so embarrassed – she’s told a lot of people in LA that they’d been led to expect it. It totally ruined the holiday,” one close David Beckham associate revealed.