爱思英语编者按:2011年2月26日,香港女星梁洛施发布声明,与李嘉诚次子李泽楷正式分手。灰姑娘的童话故事又一次破灭,提醒我们幸福与豪门(the rich and powerful family)之间,未必存在很大关联。

What's love got to do with it?

Starlets want to marry into wealth not only for financial security but for social status. Where love fits into the equation is every couple's closely guarded secret, but public obsession hints at conflicting values. 

If Cinderella were alive today, she would probably have a prenuptial agreement. What if the prince breaks up with her? An aging princess has got to live in grand style. She cannot go back to her old ways of sweeping the floor, can she? 

Isabella Leong has been called a "Cinderella" by the media. The singer-actress is making headlines again, as she has always done, that have nothing to do with her singing or acting. You see, Richard Li, the man with whom she has had three sons, has a father who happens to be the richest man in Asia. 

They are not married, not formally. It was reported his father objected. Recently, they announced their breakup. Instead of showing sympathy, online voices are congratulating her on "getting her freedom and her money yet miraculously not throwing away her youth", meaning she did not linger in the relationship for too long. 

Richard Li has denied a settlement or a pre-existing contract that would grant her HK$3 billion, covering her expenses as well as those of their children. He has also denied the involvement of other women. 

Tabloid gossip derives its entertainment value from subtle suggestions. When the couple first dated, there were all kinds of conjectures. Those were largely quelled with the arrival of the boys, a pair of twins among them. A romantic aura danced around the story. Now that it's splitsville, people talk about it as if Leong had a master plan to begin with. 

Of course, showbiz is a good profession to fall back on - even after a long absence. Leong is reportedly set to star in an upcoming Tsui Hark project. Others have ventured out of their bridal chamber once their husbands lost their fortune. But public response invariably implies pity, as if it's a fall from grace. 

A beautiful actress walking down the aisle with a not-so-old bigwig could embody many things, depending on your perspective, a perfect union of beauty and bounty for one. Sometimes, public reaction tells more about the times than the practice itself. The website iFeng.com is running a survey, asking people if they, given the chance, would be willing to be in Leong's shoes. The responses are almost evenly divided. 

It seems most who said no to the Leong scenario tended to see the three kids as her baggage. In other words, if she had not become a mother, the deal would have been worthwhile - whatever it includes. 

Wouldn't the kids be a wonderful reminder of the couple's love if they had truly loved each other, as they claim? Juggling three kids with a high-octane career, even without a largesse of palimony, is possible. Many Hollywood actresses have done it. 

Ultimately, people, including larger-than-life celebrities, have a right to choose their own path of life. It's funny people making a few thousands of yuan a month worry about the livelihood of those making hundred times more. 

Truth is, Chinese evaluating marriages are very conscious of social status, which is manifested in power or wealth. Happiness seems an afterthought. Otherwise, how can we tell Leong was happy in the relationship?