Skandar Keynes was born to a Lebanese mother from Marjayoun, South of Lebanon, and whom we deem Lebanese by DNA, although the current Lebanese law doesn’t. “I would like to see the law changed and would like to be able to be considered Lebanese by the Lebanese government,” Skandar said. And, yes, we are talking about the English parliamentary advisor and former award-winning actor Skandar Keynes!
Skandar doesn’t only have Lebanese blood running in his veins, he is also a descent of Charles Darwin, and Nobel Prize laureates Edgar and Hester Adrian, from the side of his father, the British author Randal Keynes.
As if this is not enough to grant him a unique legacy and mind-stimulating environment to grow up in, his grandfather was the physiologist Richard Keynes, Cambridge professors historian Simon Keynes and neuroscientist Roger Keynes are his uncles, and Catholic writer and apologist Laura Keynes is his cousin.
From the side of his Lebanese mother Zelfa, a Hourani from Marjayoun in the south of Lebanon, Keynes also favored from the influence of notable achievers: His grandfather Cecil Fadlo Hourani, former advisor to the late Tunisian president Bourguiba; his uncle Albert, a major historian on the Middle-East; and his uncle George, a philosopher, historian, and classicist.
You would think naturally that with such background and environment, Keynes would walk a path similar to those of the members of his family from both sides. But that wasn’t the case. Keynes was attracted to acting and initiated his education in the Anna Scher Theatre School (2000-2005).
In 2001, he acted in the TV documentary Queen Victoria Died in 1901 and is Still Alive, and played the role of Enzo Ferrari at 8 years old in the 2003 TV film Ferrari.
Starting in 2005, and while continuing his education through college, Keynes became famous for his role of Edmund Pevensie in the famous Chronicles of Narnia film series, where he appeared in all three chapters:
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, for which he won the CAMIE award in 2006, Prince Caspian, for which he won an award, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which was released in Britain and the US in 2010. For that last part of the series, Keynes had to study to obtain the Professional Association of Diving Instructors’ license for underwater scenes.
Nominated three times for the Young Artists Award between 2009 and 2011, Keynes won the Award in 2009 of Best Performance in a Feature Film for his role as Prince Caspian.
In Oct 2010, Keynes went for a degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern History at Pembroke College, a prestigious constituent college of the University of Cambridge, reputable to have among the highest level of academic performance of all the Cambridge colleges.
Four years into his education, in 2014, Business Insider cited Keynes among the “16 Incredibly Impressive Students at Cambridge University.”
That was the year Keynes would come to achieve his degree in Middle Eastern Studies, and to also contribute his voice as Sir Allan Kerr to the audio drama The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty: In Freedom’s Cause.
In 2016, he brought his acting career to a final stop, shifting radically from the artistic entertainment scene to the political one, taking the position of parliamentary adviser to minister Crispin Blunt, a British Conservative Party Politician, and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee until 2017.
Since then, Keynes has been seen attending various EU summits and parliamentary meetings in various parts of Europe and beyond.
So, how about Lebanon and his Lebanese roots in all this? Well, let me tell you because Keynes wants to be officially recognized as Lebanese. He deems Lebanon his second home and his “family home,” specifically his mother’s hometown Marjeyoun, which he visits regularly with his family since he was a kid.
At four years of age, in 1996, he lived the war of the sixteen-day Israeli military campaign against Lebanon. He also lived the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006 when he was 14 years old. But this is what he said to a reporter in 2012, “It didn’t really shake my view of Lebanon as effectively a second home, a place where I come to and I have family.”
In his words to the NOW News in 2012, “…I understand that in part the law that a mother cannot pass her nationality to her children is tied up with the Palestinian issue, and sometimes I wonder who I am to complain when there are people who have been born and brought up in Lebanon, who speak Arabic better than I ever will and can’t get Lebanese citizenship…”
“I would like to see the law changed and would like to be able to be considered Lebanese by the Lebanese government. When I arrive at the airport, I would like to show a Lebanese passport,” Skandar said.
He continued, “I would like to go to my house without having to get permission, but part of me feels that I have to put my hands up in the air and say, ‘Well, what I want is not what I’m going to get,’ and I don’t know how or to what extent I should resign myself to the fact that I’m not Lebanese as far as they are concerned.”
Well, Skandar Keynes, in our minds and hearts, you are Lebanese!