In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a few of their favorite brands that promote mental well-being, but not everyone is feeling better.
The celebrity couple, on April 30, highlighted more than a dozen wellness accounts, ranging from meditation to fitness. “To pay tribute to all of the incredible work people across the globe are doing in this space, we are hoping to shine a light on several Instagram accounts that promote mental well-being, mental fitness, body positivity, self-care, and the importance of human connection–to not just hear each other, but to listen,” read the royals’ official Instagram.
Among those named were meditation app Headspace; crisis intervention group Crisis Text Line; and Man Cave, which pushes “healthy masculinity” for young men. In addition, the couple gave a shout-out to Taryn Toomey’s The Class, billed as a “transformative workout of the body and mind.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have previously shown support for mental health initiatives. More recently, the couple joined forces with Prince William and Kate Middleton to help launch a messaging helpline for those dealing with a mental health crisis.
However, some fans took issue with the royals’ latest efforts. As NBC News reports, critics of the post were disappointed that the couple didn’t solely feature charities or nonprofits. The Class, for example, has garnered a cult following for its “emotional workout,” which costs $35-$42 per session and is only available in a few select cities. It’s a mix of cardio, sound, and crystal healing that encourages members to get in touch with their visceral feelings. The Class luxe wellness retreats, meanwhile, start at $1,750 and go all the way up to $6,000. It’s not exactly an affordable pursuit.
One commenter wrote, “Is this still a royal family account, or an advertising platform?” while another noted that Buckingham Palace “needs to vet these new accounts that are being followed. A good half are not charities. They’re internet for-profits and their IG accounts link to subscriptions and merchandise.”
Even royal experts aren’t sold on royals plugging for-profit companies.
“I think the royals do need to be careful to be as transparent as possible when it comes to what they are promoting, to ensure it does not look like they are giving friends special treatment,” said NBC News royal contributor Camilla Tominey, referencing rumors that Markle is personally a fan of The Class. “Clearly the impetus behind this initiative appears to be hugely positive, and that should be welcomed, but any allegations of favoritism will detract from the worthy cause they are trying to promote.”
A rep for The Class, however, notes that the studio does offer free community classes multiple times a week. In addition, their staff volunteers at Kristi House, which provides treatment and services for children overcoming abuse trauma. The rep did not offer any more details on the royals’ relationship with the brand.
One might argue that the royals simply harbor expensive tastes, but when it comes to their public-serving initiatives, they generally steer clear of pushing unapproachable experiences. Their jobs are to carry out public duties in support of the monarchy, most notably by calling attention to charitable activities and projects. To some, highlighting The Class more or less looks like Markle plugging a workout she prefers. That’s not what their official royal Instagram accounts are meant for.
NBC News reports that Markle declined to comment on the duchess’s relationship with Toomey, only offering that “there were no advance discussions with any of the charities, causes, or individuals” tagged on Instagram.