Meghan Markle had a turbulent time last year, as she transitioned from being a senior member of the British royal family to a financially-independent royal. She also suffered an unfortunate miscarriage, and isolated amid the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout this time, the Duchess of Sussex had constant "support" in her life.

Caroline Yates, CEO of animal charity Mayhew of which Meghan was the royal patron, revealed that the "Suits" alum's dogs helped her deal with the tough times. She told Hello! magazine: "Whenever we talk to the Duchess about the charity, she always references how important her dogs are and what a support they are, particularly during everything that's happened this year, with COVID, and with the personal trials and tribulations she went through this year."

Meghan owns two rescue dogs, a beagle named Guy and a black labrador called Pula. She continued supporting Mayhew, which works to improve the lives of dogs and cats, even after quitting as a senior royal.

Yates said about Meghan's support: "It was really nice to share our experiences with her about how important animals are when things are tough and what a comfort they can be. That's what Mayhew is all about, that's what we want to try and encourage, we want to try to promote the human-animal bond and what a great source of comfort and stimulation, and joy pet ownership can be."

It was Mayhew that released Meghan and Harry's family Christmas card on social media. The card featured an illustration of the couple with their son Archie and their pet dogs Guy and Pula at their new Montecito home.

Yates said the charity was "really thrilled" after the Sussexes who currently don't have any social media handle asked them to share their card. She said: "We had no idea what it would look like before we got the photo, and when we saw it, we thought, 'Oh wow!' It's very family-oriented, it was really lovely."

Mayhew was one of Meghan's patronages when she was a working royal, along with Smart Works, The National Theatre, and The Association of Commonwealth Universities. The 39-year-old announced it as her patronage in January 2019, weeks after visiting their animal home in Kensal Green, North London. She also renewed the sponsorship of a dog kennel at Mayhew in her son Archie's name.

"It just came across that the Duchess wanted to be involved with some real grassroot organisations. I think what struck her about Mayhew is our work with communities," Yates said about Meghan choosing them as her patronage.

Yates also revealed that the mother-of-one keeps checking in with the charity, and is particularly interested in their animal-assisted intervention programme "TheraPaws." The programme has been designed to promote physical, social, and emotional well-being.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle Michele Spatari/AFP