The return type of an overriding function shall be either identical to the return type of the overridden function or covariant with the classes of the functions. If a function D::f overrides a function B::f, the return types of the functions are covariant if they satisfy the following criteria:

• both are pointers to classes, both are lvalue references to classes, or both are rvalue references to classes112
• the class in the return type of B::f is the same class as the class in the return type of D::f, or is an unambiguous and accessible direct or indirect base class of the class in the return type of D::f
• both pointers or references have the same cv-qualification and the class type in the return type of D::f has the same cv-qualification as or less cv-qualification than the class type in the return type of B::f.