Princesses are the damsels in distress of literature. In many stories they don’t do anything except get kidnapped, wait to be rescued, and then marry the hero. If there is going to be spunky female in the story it is more likely to be the milkmaid than the princess. Some of this came from fairy tales where the hero was the protagonist and the princess was merely an excuse to beat on the bad guy. In stories where the princess is a bigger part of the story, she tends to develop more character and is useful.
Many people point to Disney princesses are being useless, but I don’t see that as the case. If you found yourself in a cottage in the middle of the woods, what would your first thought be? Snow White’s first thought was to clean it. If it wasn’t for Cinderella, the grand duke would have lost his head. Beauty went to the Beast’s castle and offered herself in exchange for her father. These are not useless behaviours.
Princesses may be the damsel in distress in a story, but she can still do it with character and spunk. There are lots of stories out there proving that.