Meghan Markle is speaking out after she unexpectedly lost her friend Oli Juste. The Duchess, 40, was introduced to the animal enthusiast through Mayhew, an animal welfare charity that she picked to support as a royal patron in 2019.
“I was introduced to Mayhew by my dear friend, animal behaviorist, Oli Juste. We shared, amongst many things, a commitment to animal welfare, and a deep love of rescue dogs. In fact, it was Oli and his fiancé Rob who helped care for my rescue dog, Guy, when I had just moved to the UK and he was recovering from a debilitating accident. They loved him as though he was their own," she wrote on the charity's website.
She continued, "It was nearly four years ago, as I was exploring possible organizations to volunteer with, that Oli brought me to Mayhew. He knew that beyond their adoption and rescue programs, their international work to keep animals safe, and their local work to find abandoned pets homes, that I would be drawn to their deep love of community, which transcended the animals themselves, and extended to the people around them. He was right. I fell in love with Mayhew, and soon became their Royal patron."
The former actress recalled the good times she had with Juste.
"As my three-year patronage to Mayhew came to a close earlier this year, I reflected on the work they have achieved in the hardest of times — during a global pandemic with minimal resources, safeguarding staff from their stations in Afghanistan, and still resolving to remain steadfast in their vital day to day work for animal and human welfare throughout London and across the globe," she shared. "Every day there was another twist and turn, every week another update — which Oli and I would connect about: 'What can we do? How can we do more? Look at the amazing work they continue to do.'"
Meghan revealed that on January 15, "Oli tragically and very suddenly passed away."
"It has left me, and so many others, heartbroken and reflective — knowing that the legacy he leaves for our furry friends is beautifully simple: just love them. Especially those left behind or forgotten. In his memory, we will be creating the Oli Juste wing at Mayhew, to shelter the animals who may have a harder time finding their forever homes. Because much like Oli, they will never be forgotten, and they will always be loved," she stated. "Though my time as patron of Mayhew has come to a close, my unwavering support has not. I encourage each of you to support in whatever way you are able. The emotional support of a rescue animal is unparalleled — as you’ll soon realize: it is not you who saves them, it is they who save you.
"To the Mayhew community, thank you for entrusting me as your patron. It has been an honor," she concluded.