At E3 2016 earlier this month, Nintendo revealed that it considered making Princess Zelda the main character of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This idea was ultimately rejected (more on that below). Now, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto has spoken up to say "Link is the hero and that will not change" for the mainline Zelda games.
However, he left the door open for the possibility of a Zelda spinoff game to feature a female character.
GameKult: We regularly talk about the possibility to include a female character in a Zelda game for several years. Considering her important role in the story and the name of the series, can we expect to see in the future a game with Zelda as the main protagonist? If Tingle managed to have two games in his glory on DS, surely it is possible to do something, right?
Miyamoto: "We clearly talked with the team to make a game centered about Sheik, so I cannot say it is impossible to see something of the sort in the future, but in the classic games in the series, Link is the hero and that will not change. For the rest, you have to be patient and see what happens!"
At E3, Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma explained why Princess Zelda could not be the playable hero in Breath of the Wild.
"...if we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do?" he said. "Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup."