Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says a directive to Canadian embassies to display a portrait of the Queen is nothing new and is in keeping with the government's policy to acknowledge Canada's head of state.

"We're talking about the head of state. I think virtually every country has a picture of their head of state in their missions abroad," Kenney told reporters Thursday in Ottawa before a meeting of Conservative MPs.

"Virtually all of the Canadian missions I've been to already have a picture of our head of state and this just confirms the policy, I think, for the few missions that don't. So there's a consistency. I think consistency makes sense."

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said much the same, telling CBC News, "It was already there. There isn't much to say."

A spokesman for Baird told The Canadian Press that Canadian missions were instructed this month to hang the Queen's portrait.

"Like virtually every other country in the world who display pictures of their head of state in their missions, we expect all Canadian missions abroad to display pictures of Canada's head of state, the Queen; along with the Governor General, the Prime Minister and relevant Ministers," Rick Roth said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has taken several steps recently to entrench the monarchy as one of the country's most important heritage symbols.

Late last month, the Tories renamed the Maritime Command and Air Command the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force, restoring names that had been in use before a change in 1968.

In late June, Baird ordered two historic paintings by Quebec master Alfred Pellan replaced with a portrait of the Queen in the reception area of his department. The new "Sovereign's Wall" was designated in time for the royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July.

While some have welcomed the moves amid a royal visit this summer and in advance of the Queen's diamond jubilee next year, others, particularly in Quebec, have criticized them as a return to colonialism.

With files from The Canadian Press