AWARD-WINNING Bradford artist and author Simone Malik has a potentially fascinating family link to royalty, and she is determined to get the story out there.

She states that the story of her connection to the Indian Royal Mughal Dynasty, who constructed the Taj Mahal, has been passed down through the generations, but that it has always been kept quiet.

Ms Malik, who is related to former One Direction superstar Zayn Malik, believes that she is the great great great granddaughter of King Jahangir, the fourth Mughal Emperor and son of King Akbar The Great.

Ms Malik explained: "The elders have always talked about it so I've known since I was a child.

"My elders claim that my mum's great grandfather was an entertainer for the Royal Family but he eloped with King Jahangir's daughter, Princess Sher Bano.

"After what he'd done, he had to go into hiding for years in India in underground, handmade tunnels. Before he died, he told his sons, Mohammed Khan and Niaj Khan, about their ancestry."

Ms Malik is determined to prove the links, but has been denied by a couple of near misses.

She said: "A big American database, Family Tree DNA, were running the Binghaleb Project, which was trying to bring together the last descendants of the Royal Mughal Dynasty."

"I asked them if there was another member I could be compared to, but unfortunately they appear to have wrapped the project up last summer.

"I've also tried to contact William Dalrymple, a historian who writes for The Guardian and is an expert in the Royal Mughal Dynasty, but I've had no luck so far.

"Any historian that could come forward with information, I would be grateful."

Ms Malik believes that her work as a portrait artist helps her to recognise the facial links between her family and recognised dynasty members.

The Bradford artist has used those facial recognition skills to great effect in the past, playing a vital role in snaring a child murderer.

Seven-year-old Zainab Ansari was raped and killed in Pakistan last January. The subsequent police sketch did not seem to marry up with the CCTV so Ms Malik decided to take action.

She explained: "They were having no luck catching the paedophile killer and the original sketch was nothing like the CCTV.

"I did my own drawing, which ended up being shared by crime reporters and political representatives, and the police got the culprit within a week."

"It turned out he was involved in similar crimes dating back to 2015 and he was eventually hung last October."

Ms Malik spoke about her role in the case alongside Bradford West MP Naz Shah on International Women's Day 2019.