In the 1960s, Prof Higgs and other physicists proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the Universe have mass. The mechanism predicts the existence of a Higgs particle, the discovery of which was claimed this year at the Large Hadron Collider.
Prof Higgs has been made a Companion of Honour. The recognition confers no title but is restricted to a select group of 65 for achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry, or religion.
His discovery announced in July this year of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson immediately led to calls for the 83-year-old to be knighted.
He is now also considered to be a candidate for a Nobel prize, perhaps in conjunction with other physicists who reached similar conclusions at the same time.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Higgs was inspired at school by the work of physicist Paul Dirac, who helped lay the foundations of quantum mechanics and predicted the existence of antimatter.