In July, the 49-year-old carried the Olympic torch through the seaside town of Margate, where she grew up.
Her works were exhibited at the Turner Contemporary in May, the art gallery she opened in 2011.
Asked about the honour, Emin said: "It's been insane trying to keep it a secret."
She added that she was looking forward to seeing the look on her mother's face.
"I think they pushed me in at the deep end, but I'm absolutely thrilled," she said.
"For me this honour is a symbol of how art can change people's perception of life and view the world in a different way."
'More passion'
In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize and exhibited one of her most famous works, The Bed, at the Tate Gallery.
A neon sign saying I Never Stopped Loving You in her own handwriting was installed on a seafront building in Margate in 2010.
A sign reading More Passion was installed in Downing Street in 2011.
"Art is a great enabler as it has helped me to achieve many things throughout my life and through my daily life to help many other people," Emin said.
"I am pleased and happy to have recognition for this. But always in life recognition is not why we do things.
"We do things because of vocation, because we have to do them."

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