The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage 20 years ago. But for the Dutch royal family, the rules were different: The government held that if an heir wanted to marry someone of the same sex, they would have to forfeit their right to the throne.
That position changed on Tuesday when Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Dutch princess, 17-year-old Catharina-Amalia Beatrix Carmen Victoria, could marry someone of any gender without fear of relinquishing the crown.
The new stance is a clear break from the traditions of other royal families around the globe, including those that have avoided addressing the issue or disapprove of the practice outright.
In the Netherlands, Parliament must approve royal engagements. But Rutte, a longtime proponent of LGBTQ rights both at home and in Europe, said that times have changed since the issue was last addressed in 2000.
“The cabinet … does not see that an heir to the throne or the King should abdicate if he/she would like to marry a partner of the same sex,” Rutte wrote in a letter to Parliament on Tuesday.
He said that the position applies to all heirs of the throne, not just Princess Amalia, who has not commented publicly.
His own party had asked Rutte to clarify the government’s stance after questions were raised about royal succession and same-sex marriage in a book published over the summer.
Little is known about the personal life of the princess, who is next in line for the throne. Previously, some Dutch royals abandoned their place in the line of succession to marry someone without “parliamentary consent”.