De Gramont’s first visit to England was actually in June 1658 when a delegation was sent from France to an unwell Cromwell (in fact he died in September) following the successful Battle of the Dunes. This victory evicted the Spanish and gave England Dunkirk, the first English foothold on the continent since Queen Mary had yielded Calais. The delegation was headed by Crequi representing Louis, but it included Philippe de Mancini a nephew of, and representing the Cardinal Mazarin, and Philibert de Gramont. This gave de Gramont a chance to see an England devoid of gaiety. On his return to France he was at the signing of the Treaty of Peace of the Pyrenees in the following year with Charles II, who was busy negotiating with English agents.
Following the execution of King Charles 1, his sons Charles and James spent part of their exile in France. They became well acquainted with the de Gramont family. Charles writes in the warmest terms in 1651 to Philibert’s brother, Antoine, Duc de Gramont ending ‘Votre bien affectionée amy et cousin, Charles R’ (Archives de Gramont). Subsequently the marriage of Charles’ sister Henriette to King Louis XIV’s brother Philippe, Duc d’Orleans brought further connections to the de Gramonts. Philibert’s sister, Suzanne-Charlotte was appointed governess to the d’Orleans’ children, and remained a friend and confident of Henriette until her death. Philibert’s niece Catherine-Charlotte (Marquess de Chaumont) was appointed Lady-in-Waiting to Henriette, and his nephew Armand, Comte de Guiche was one of her passionate admirers until he was sent off by Louis to a regiment at Nancy where he acquitted himself well. (The Captaine des Cent-Suisses de Philippe d’Orleans was Jean-Roger (Marquis) de Foix-Rabat)
It is not surprising then that Philibert enjoyed a special, privileged and obligated position at the English court. He made a great number of visits to England, which we will touch on below. These visits were for pleasure, certainly, but he was also the unofficial conduit between the Kings of England and France, and between Henriette and Charles.