Alfred Nobel's will says that his estate should fund 'prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind'. He lived in an age when physics was the study of the fundamental problems facing engineers of his day. Look at the careers of Kelvin or Helmholtz or Maxwell to see how closely tied these areas were. (Kelvin built transatlantic telegraph equipment, Maxwell developed color photography and studied bridge design, Helmholtz worked on physiology and thermodynamics inspired by applied science). I suspect the distance between modern fundamental particle physics and practical benefits to humanity might seem very foreign to Nobel were he alive to see it.
My concern is not actually for a subfield of physics. Applied research is often better funded than traditional reductionist physics. My concern is for physics as a discipline, and for the career path our brightest young aspiring physicists are directed down. We are at a cross-roads. Either physics will be the search for ever more fundamental models of the constituents of matter that become ever more irrelevant, and all the useful work will be done by people who call themselves something else. Or physics will become the application of quantitative models to fundamental problems in wide areas of science, and much of modern science will become ever more indistinguishable from applied physics. In the former case physics drifts into obscurity. In the latter case, physics strengthens its place as the central and fundamental science.